EDITOR’S NOTE: Information for this story was gathered from interviews conducted throughout the Missouri General Assembly’s 2016 legislative session, which ran from January to mid-May.
JEFFERSON CITY — Zachary Wyatt-Gomez, 31, a former Missouri representative and openly gay Republican, is an ideological harbinger—a man whose own life story mirrors the morphing philosophy of his seemingly fractured party.
But Wyatt’s experience also highlights a growing divide within the GOP, an uneasy coalition straining to establish some form of consensus between its business-minded and socially conservative wings.
It’s a divide that served as tinder for this spring’s religious liberty showdown in the Missouri General Assembly.
Senate Joint Resolution 39, a Republican-sponsored religious liberty constitutional amendment, was first presented as a way to protect the socially conservative beliefs and practices of ordinary citizens from overbearing government oversight.
Opponents argued the resolution would legalize discrimination.
Specifically, SJR 39 would have allowed some wedding-related businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples based on a “sincere religious belief.”
An article in Sunday’s New York Times – a critical investigation into Donald Trump’s personal and professional relationships with various women – has sparked outrage among some of his supporters.
Rowanne Brewer Lane, a model quoted in the piece, believes her story of borderline sexual harassment was taken out of context. On Fox and Friends, she explained that she “did not have a negative experience with Donald Trump.”
However, some media outlets have defended the Times’ article. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post criticized Fox News’ reaction to Lane’s comments.
Last fall, Fox Host Megyn Kelly challenged Trump on his history of alleged sexist rhetoric during one of the network’s Republican primary debates. Later, Trump and Fox feuded over possibly inappropriate claims the former had made about Kelly, with Trump deciding to boycott a separate Fox debate soon after.
For the piece, Times reporters claim they conducted more than 50 interviews over a six week period.
The final days of the Missouri General Assembly’s 2016 legislative session saw passage of a pro-gun rights omnibus bill, as well as support for a constitutional amendment, subject to public referendum, to require photo ID for all voters in the state.
Both proposals were supported by Republicans, who hold a majority in both the Missouri Senate and House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 656 was passed by the legislature on Friday, the final day of the session. The bill would expand the state’s “castle doctrine,” allowing invited guests to use deadly force against intruders in a home. Also introduced was a new “stand your ground” privilege, which would nullify the requirement that one first attempt to retreat before using deadly force against an attacker.
SB 656 now heads to the governor’s desk. If Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, vetoes the bill, the legislature will have the opportunity to override the decision during a special session in September. A two-thirds majority from the House and Senate would be required.
On Thursday, the Legislature gave final approval to House Joint Resolution 53, a proposed constitutional amendment to require photo ID for voters in Missouri elections.
As a joint resolution, the proposal will bypass the governor’s veto power and head straight to the public as a ballot measure this fall. If a majority of voters approve the amendment, it will become an official part of the Missouri Constitution.
Read the Missourian’s coverage of HJR 53 here, and the Associated Press’ coverage of SB 656 here.
Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, has signed multiple executive orders to try and address the so-called gender pay gap within the state workforce.
Some Missouri lawmakers have promoted pay equity protection bills, although few, if any, have passed in the Republican-controlled legislature.
Others, such as the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, are against further equal pay legislation. To them, adequate law already exists, and the difference in pay is primarily due to larger culturally-ingrained factors. To fix this, we must focus instead on better education practices and social programs, they say.
Read the Missourian’s coverage of the different approaches to addressing equal pay here.
Research shows women in MO make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. But what should be done to change that? https://t.co/nT7utVt1w0
General election polling suggests that Donald Trump would have a tough time besting Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic presidential nominee.
For example, a polling-average matchup from Real Clear Politics currently puts Clinton 6.5 points ahead of The Donald. Not an overly large margin, to be sure, but a comfortable lead nonetheless.
However, some, such as Philip Wallach of the Washington Post, believe the race could be much closer than the polls suggest.
As some have pointed out, both candidates would have record-setting “unfavorability” ratings. This could lead to anemic turnout in a downright messy general election. Conventional wisdom might no longer apply.
What do you think? Either way, we’re likely to set historical precedent. Either we elect the first female United States president, or we elect the first to hold the office with no prior political experience.