The Board of Directors of Kansas City-based Folk Alliance International (FAI), the world’s largest folk music industry organization, would like to register our unanimous objection to Missouri Senate Joint Resolution 39 (SJR39). This proposed amendment to Missouri’s Constitution allowing refusal of service to same-sex couples based on “sincerely held religious beliefs” is discriminatory and offensive to the ideals of our organization, our industry, and our community. This legislation is bad for Missouri’s economy and business, and seriously harms the social health and fabric of the state. It will also inflict damage upon Missouri’s public image nationally and internationally.
Folk Alliance International is a 29-year-old charitable organization and international cultural leader with more than 3,000 members, including many living in your district and state. We are an equal opportunity employer, investing in staff, contractors, creators, hospitality and production partners in Kansas City. Every year our conference attracts 2,500 delegates to Missouri from 20 countries and all 50 states - not to mention the local community that attends our public festival and events. FAI has been assessed by VISIT KC as having a local economic impact of $5,000,000 annually.
Several years ago, FAI decided to relocate our headquarters because we believed in Missouri’s progressive momentum. Our contract expires in 2018 and, as much as we enjoy Kansas City, we will search for a new home if SJR39 passes. We won’t be the only ones - the discriminatory aspects of this bill will cause other organizations to look elsewhere to conduct business. This Bill jeopardizes not just the economic prosperity of Missouri, but also the human aspect of this great state.
Folk Alliance International is proud to stand with Governor Jay Nixon, KC Mayor Sly James, KCMO City Manager Troy Schulte, the KC Chamber, VISIT KC, the St. Louis Chamber, the Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the American Civil Liberties Union, Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, and countless businesses and organizations across the city and state in opposing SJR39.
We urge you to reject SJR39. Discrimination will not stand in Kansas City or be tolerated anywhere in Missouri.
Michelle Conceison, President, Board of Directors
Aengus Finnan, Executive Director