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Testimony in Opposition to Senate Joint Resolution No. 39

On April 12, 2016 this is testimony was delivered by Duane Simpson, Monsanto’s U.S. State and Government Affairs Lead, to a Missouri House committee in response to Senate Joint Resolution 39.

Thank you Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, my name is Duane Simpson and I lead State and Local Government Affairs for Monsanto and I am here today to oppose SJR 39 on behalf of the company and our employees.

We at Monsanto are a company that recognizes diversity and inclusiveness not as a program, but a way that we do business. In order to remain competitive in the workplace, we must create an environment that allows all of our employees to be authentic, regardless of who they are as individuals. This focus has enabled us to attract, retain and empower employees from all walks of life – helping us to forge and maintain strong relationships in the community, marketplace and with our various stakeholders. Our philosophy has led Monsanto to recognize that having inclusive policies are not only the right thing to do, but are in the best interests of our company. This month, April 19, we will commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the adoption of our human rights policy that respects the human rights of our diverse workforce and balances both the religious liberties of our employees and the rights of all employees without regard to their age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or gender expression or identity.

Monsanto includes sexual orientation and gender identity in our corporate nondiscrimination policy. We extend same-sex partner benefits to our lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees. We developed an Employee Resource Group called Encompass for LGBT employees and allies and we have aligned our charitable giving to support our diversity efforts. We’re proud to hold a 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index and we will continue to champion policies, such as the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA) and the federal Equality Act that support all of our employees.

After all, we do not believe it is good enough to simply have the right corporate policies if our employees and customers don’t enjoy basic freedoms and protections in their daily lives. SJR 39 is not just about wedding vendors and clergy. It redefines the term “religious organization” so that any for-profit business can self-declare itself a religious organization and then discriminate against same sex couples in employment, housing and public accommodations.

As drafted, this legislation will impair our ability to compete for world class talent. It would make our employees and their family members less secure in their daily lives. It would harm the reputation of our entire state, potentially costing the state millions of dollars in economic activity and untold losses in the dignity every citizen of Missouri deserves.

For all of these reasons, I urge this committee to defeat SJR 39.

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