I've received several inquiries regarding a vote that I cast in the final days of the 2021 session. Along with several other Republican Senators, I voted in support of an amendment that would have prohibited denying access to public transportation services based on sexual orientation or gender identity. A number of my constituents, especially my brothers and sisters in Christ, have asked me to explain my vote–knowing that I have consistently been a "NO" vote to the proposed Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, or "MONA", as it is often called.
As a steadfast Christian who cares deeply about honoring our Heavenly Father with my actions, I want to let you know the actual details of this vote because some of the information that has gone out is simply incorrect. First, a little background about the how this vote came about. During Senate deliberations about a transportation bill, House Bill 661, an amendment was proposed to prevent public entities from requiring vaccine documentation in order to access transportation - so basically this amendment would prohibit vaccine passports, which I'm in full support of banning. The sponsor of this amendment presented it as an anti-discrimination measure. In response, another senator offered an amendment to the amendment, which stated simply, “no such system or service shall discriminate against any person based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”
So, let’s be clear. The question before the Senate was not the full "MONA" legislation. The question before the Senate was whether it should be legal for a public bus system or some other public accommodation to deny services solely because someone is gay, or transgender. It had absolutely nothing to do with our churches or our businesses. Nothing to do with private entities in any way.
The underlying amendment was withdrawn, so neither provision was included in the version of HB 661 sent to the governor. However, the prohibition of vaccine passports did make it to the governor’s desk as part of another bill.
Some of the information that has gone out has tried to equate my vote, and the other Senator’s votes, on this amendment to a “Yes” position on the full "MONA" policy. That is unequivocally untrue, they are mistaken. The full "MONA" policy would add sexual orientation and gender identity provisions to Missouri’s Human Rights Act. I, and many others, remain concerned that the full "MONA" policy would impact the rights of our private businesses, churches, and citizens. Because of this, I have consistently, and repeatedly, voted against MONA – not just once - but for the last9-years. I cannot support a law that would force our pastors or our businesses to go against their religious beliefs. It's as simple as that.
Again, to be very clear, the vote that I cast was narrowly focused on whether a public entity, such as a municipal bus line, could deny service to a person because of their sexual orientation or identity.
As a legislator, I have to vote on the language that is in front of me. Basically, the question being asked was "Would it be OK to block the door of a city bus and tell someone they could not ride simply because they are gay?" Doing something like that would be the opposite of showing Jesus’love to others. That scenario, however unlikely, might actually be legal under Missouri's current law.
It’s become a cliché, but when faced with difficult decisions, Christians are encouraged to ask,“What would Jesus do?” I do not believe Jesus would toss someone from the Metro because they are gay. And I won’t do it either. That is not the way to show the love of Christ.
I realize you must vote your conscious, just as I must vote mine. Please know I will ALWAYS cast my vote based on what I feel the Holy Spirit is leading me to do. I believe more people will want a personal relationship with Jesus Christ when we, Christians, show them what his love is really about - the fruits of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22 & 23) That is what I will always strive to do.The approval of our Savior is all that I seek.
Paid for by Friends of Holly Rehder, Henry ‘Butch’ Holyfield, Treasurer.