State Sen. Doug Beck D-Afton (Tim Bommel/Missouri House Communications).
All 10 Democratic members of the Missouri Senate signed a letter Monday urging Gov. Mike Parson to remove the chair of the Missouri Commission on Human Rights over his recent public statements in opposition to LGBTQ-rights legislation.
Timothy Faber, a lobbyist for the Missouri Baptist Convention, testified in a Senate committee hearing last week about a bill that would amend Missouri’s Nondiscrimination Act to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Faber used biblical references to argue that the bill infringed on “religious liberty.” He did not disclose his position as chair of the Missouri Commission on Human Rights until he was asked directly about it by a Senator.
During his testimony, he referred to the commission as “they” while arguing that the legislation would lead to more lawsuits that the commission would have to handle.
“This would create an even greater backlog of cases for the Missouri Commission on Human Rights staff than they already have,” Faber testified.
“Are you not the chair of the Human Rights Commission?” asked Sen. Doug Beck, D-Affton.
Faber said he did not come to testify on behalf of the commissions but confirmed his position as chair.
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The letter, sent by Beck’s office, said Faber’s “attempt to obfuscate his position erodes the trust Missouri legislators require from members of Missouri’s boards and commissions.”
The commission has 11 spots for governor-appointed commissioners. Only four of the positions are filled, meaning it can’t conduct business because it does not have a quorum.
Faber often testifies on behalf of the Missouri Baptist Convention, including during a hearing about the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.
“I’m taking that your stance is that LGBTQ folks shouldn’t have the same rights as I have not to be discriminated against,” Beck asked him during his testimony. “Is that what you’re saying, based on the Bible? Or what exactly are you saying?”
“I’m saying that an employer or a landlord should also have rights in how they conduct their business,” Faber answered.
“They can discriminate against someone based on a number of factors,” he said. “That’s their right.”
According to current state law, it is illegal to discriminate against Missourians “because of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex or age, as it relates to employment, disability, or familial status as it relates to housing.”
It is not illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The letter from the senators said Faber’s lobbying job interferes with his duties on the commission.
The commission says its role is “to eliminate discrimination through the enforcement of the Missouri Human Rights Act and prevent social inequality through education and outreach” on its webpage.
“The Missouri Commission on Human Rights has an incredibly important duty to investigate complaints of alleged discrimination in employment, public accommodations and housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, age and familial status,” the senators’ letter says. “This duty cannot be fulfilled with confidence when its chairman has lost the trust of elected leaders.”
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The Independent contacted the commission, which did not have a comment at the time of publication. Faber did not respond to attempts to contact.
The governor’s office did not return a request for comment.
“I do not speak for the Human Rights Commission. That’s not my role,” Faber told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “That was not my intent. And I don’t even have the legal right to do so, especially considering that the commission has not addressed these issues. That’s why I did not identify myself as a commissioner.”
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