The Missouri Catholic Conference is urging state legislators to respect the rights of all when considering legislation that would ban discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The general counsel for the Catholic Conference, Tyler McClay, testified before a House committee on Thursday, March 13, offering examples of how HB 1930, sponsored by Representative Kevin Engler (R-Farmington), could have unintended but harmful consequences. “We do not support discrimination, but we also believe that people need to have space for their religious beliefs, particularly with regard to facilitating marriage ceremonies,” McClay told the committee.
McClay said that it was contrary to human dignity to force persons to photograph lesbian weddings, arrange the flower decorations, or in other ways directly participate in same-sex weddings or similar activities, when to do so would be contrary to their sincerely held religious convictions. McClay recounted how fines were imposed on New Mexico photographer Elaine Huguenin for declining to provide photography services for a lesbian wedding. This summer the New Mexico Supreme Court upheld those fines, her religious and moral convictions notwithstanding.
Also of concern is whether the legislation would force church facilities to open their doors to same-sex ceremonies and other activities. St. Peter Parish just across from the State Capitol opens Selinger Center to the Lions Club and other community groups. The MCC’s written testimony expressed concern that the legislation would require a church hall like Selinger Center to be used for same-sex ceremonies and similar activities.
Other organizations that spoke in opposition of HB 1930 included: the Missouri Chamber of Commerce; Associated Industries of Missouri; and the Missouri Baptist Convention.
Posted: March 14, 2014