Sen. Gary Romine’s Capitol Update: Standing Up for Religious Freedom

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By all accounts, this 10th week of session began just like any other — or at least the first 15 minutes did. On Monday, right after the Senate chaplain presided over a brief prayer and we recited the Pledge of Allegiance, Senate Joint Resolution 39 was offered and the longest continuous filibuster in recent state history began.

As I detailed in my column two weeks ago, SJR 39 is a proposed constitutional amendment that prohibits the state from penalizing a religious organization or individual who acts in accordance with a sincere religious belief. Protected acts include refusing to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony or allow the ceremony to be performed on the organization’s property, as well as declining to provide goods of ex­­pressional or artistic creation for the ceremony. Nothing in the resolution prevents the state from providing lawful marriage licenses or other marital benefits, and it does not allow a hospital to refuse to treat a marriage as valid for the purposes of a spouse’s right to visitation or to make health care decisions.

Those opposed to the measure claim it creates a broad religious exemption that will lead to widespread discrimination, but that is simply untrue. The scope of SJR 39 is narrowly limited, and to put it another way, it is a shield, not a sword.

Two weeks ago, I wrote that now more than ever, we must do everything we can to stand up for and defend our religious beliefs. At 7:30 on Wednesday morning as I was walking out of the Capitol for the first time in nearly two days, I was incredibly proud of what we had just accomplished. Senate Joint Resolution 39 is about making sure that the citizens of Missouri are not persecuted or prosecuted for remaining faithful to their values.

In other legislative news, I had the opportunity on Monday to present my career and technical education (CTE) legislation (Senate Bill 620) to the House Committee on Emerging Issues in Education. The measure establishes graduation requirements for a CTE certificate that a student can earn in addition to their diploma. If signed into law, students entering high school in the 2017-2018 academic year and thereafter will be eligible for a CTE certificate.

From data management to welding and everything in between, CTE is a tried and true path high school students can take to find stable, well-paying jobs immediately after graduation. It is the new wave of education, and it is my privilege to be a voice for the CTE community. Senate Bill 620 has been well-received, and all the various stakeholders have expressed their support. The measure has been referred to the House Select Committee on Education, and I will continue to update you on its progress throughout the second half of session.

Finally, I was pleased to welcome the following individuals and groups to my office in Jefferson City this week: Don Thompson with First State Community Bank in Potosi; Iron County Circuit Clerk Gail White; Mark Warren, representing Ameren; fourth-graders from Iron County C-4; eighth graders from Southern Reynolds County R-II; and Roger Crome of Farmington, representing People First of Missouri.

Contact Me

I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4008. You may write me at Gary Romine, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 65101; or email me at; or