Statement of the St. Louis Regional Chamber Regarding Senate Joint Resolution 39

2016-03-07 | , St. Louis Regional Chamber

Like many employers, we promote diverse, inclusive and equitable workplaces. In the global competition for talent, the success of our companies is heavily based on our ability to attract and retain the best and most diverse group of highly skilled employees, regardless of religion, race, gender or sexual orientation. Our workers and potential workers must feel welcome in the state where they choose to live and work. It is equally vital for Missouri to have an open business environment that welcomes all residents and visitors. 


We respect the right of all individuals to exercise their religious beliefs as enshrined in the U.S. and Missouri Constitutions. However, we are concerned that some provisions of Senate Joint Resolution 39 are directly counter to our Missouri values and will have significant negative economic effects on our state. 


As we saw in the reaction to the signing of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act last year, laws that allow those engaged in public commerce to discriminate will hurt our economy and our image as a welcoming state. Estimates of economic losses due to travel boycotts and canceled business expansions in Indiana are as high as $60 million and the negative effects are still being felt a year later. 


While we understand the desire to protect clergy and religious institutions from having to perform ceremonies counter to their beliefs, expanding protections to individuals and private businesses that voluntarily enter the stream of public commerce sends the message to the rest of the country that Missouri condones discrimination. SJR39 should be amended to remove these provisions.