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Businesses Could Cite Religion to Deny Services to Same-Sex Coup - KOAM TV 7

Businesses Could Cite Religion to Deny Services to Same-Sex Couples

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

A proposed constitutional amendment passed today in the Missouri Senate following one of the longest filibusters in its history. If it should pass in the House, voters would then decide if businesses can legally refuse services to same-sex couples based on religious beliefs.

Cakes, rings, tuxes and dresses, all traditionally needed for a wedding ceremony. Businesses that provide those goods could soon decline to do so for same-sex couples, using religion as a reason.

For one local church leader, the issue is messy.

“Even if it’s ever challenged judicially the right of religious freedom is one of our oldest and largest enshrined rights in this country, we should be able to practice religion as we see fit. But can I discriminate based upon some of these other things or if I’m in a different kind of business, that makes me a little bit more nervous,” says Father J. Friedel with St. Peter’s Church in Joplin.

He says because he works in the church, he can stand by the fact that same-sex marriages are not recognized in his religion. But giving non-religious entities that power could lead to discrimination.

“If they were witnessing the marriage, I can understand and I would respect their right to say I can't do that on religious grounds. But, sometimes I wonder if it's the same thing when we're talking about some of those other issues such as selling rings or baking cakes or running a rental hall,” he continues.

For a different church in Joplin, the issue is much clearer.

“The true nature of god is love, and that shows up in many different ways,” says Gordon Keyler, a Minister with Unity Church.

They perform same-sex marriages and leaders say they hope the bill does not pass. Although the two have differing beliefs, what both can agree on, “I would say if that business is directly affiliated with a religious or spiritual community that has a different belief system, in that case, they have to follow their guidance,” says Keyler.

The trick, balancing between protecting both religious freedom and morality.

A second vote will be taken in the senate tomorrow. It would then go to the GOP led house where it is expected to pass.

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