Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Missouri Senators Filibuster "Religious Freedom" Resolution All Night Long

Posted By on Tue, Mar 8, 2016 at 6:55 AM

click to enlarge SHUTTERSTOCK/IVONNE WIERINK
How to stop a piece of a legislation that would codify the right to discriminate against same-sex couples? For Missouri Democrats, the answer may be to just keep talking.

Last night at 4 p.m., the Senate Democratic caucus began filibustering a joint resolution aimed at bringing a constitutional amendment to Missouri voters that would mimic, in parts, Indiana's controversial "religious freedom restoration" act.

As of 6:30 a.m., they were still going.





The resolution, SJR 39, would refer to Missouri voters a possible constitutional amendment spelling out clear protections for anyone opposed to same-sex marriage. In essence, it would bar the state from imposing "any penalty" on those entities — including churches, other houses of worship and individuals "with sincere religious beliefs" — who decline to officiate or otherwise participate in same-sex marriage celebrations.

At this point, the constitutional amendment is utterly unnecessary. Currently LBGT people are not included in Missouri's human rights law, so it's perfectly legal to discriminate against them in everything from housing to employment —- not just wedding cakes. And beyond that, there are no cases that anyone can name of the state imposing penalties on anyone relating to same-sex marriage. 

But the resolution seems to be on a fast track regardless. Introduced by Missouri Senator Bob Onder (R-Lake St. Louis) on February 17, the bill quickly passed out of committee on February 25 and made it to the Senate floor last night, which triggered the filibuster. 

The conversation on the Senate floor hasn't quite devolved into the usual filibuster ramblings yet — in fact, based on what we saw on Twitter, people are sticking to the point and making a case against the bill, emphatically.




It's also worth noting that Indiana's religious freedom law reportedly cost Indianapolis alone $60 million in revenue. So even beyond any concerns about equality and civil rights, Onder's amendment won't be good, economically, for St. Louis.

Suffice it to say, there's a lot of people hoping that, on this one, the stalwart Democratic Senators just keep talking.

UPDATE: They're still at it after 38 hours! See our latest update for, well, the latest.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

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