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A conservative backlash has emerged as a result of the 2015 SCOTUS ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.
Senate Joint Resolution 39, sponsored by Sen. Bob Onder (R-St. Charles), would allow businesses and individuals to refuse providing “wedding-related” services to same sex couples. (nevermind that the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution applies to everyone, not just straight couples).
The crux of Onder’s argument is that businesses shouldn’t have to “be forced” to participate in a growing sector of our economy due to their “sincere religious beliefs or practices”. He believes that same-sex couples should just take their business to another vendor.
Seven Democratic Senators took to the Senate floor on Monday afternoon, and started their filibuster against the bill. The eighth Democratic senator, Gina Walsh (D-Florissant), arrived to great applause on Tuesday evening, in spite of very recent medical concerns.
Their filibuster lasted 37 hours.
During that time, the ideological divide on legal protections for all Missourians became clear. Republicans continued to insist business owners would lose their religious freedom. Democrats reflected on the oppressive use of similar legislative reasoning to argue against interracial marriage in the 1950s.
On Wednesday morning, five Republicans--Sens. Bob Onder, Kurt Schaefer, Ron Richard, Ed Emery and Mike Kehoe--signed a motion to move to Previous Question (PQ) the floor. This motion stops all debate and forces the body to vote on the previous motion: in this case, voting on the SJR and ending the filibuster.
This rare procedural tactic had not been used from 2007-2011. In the last three years however, it has been used it to force through controversial legislation: A 72 hour waiting period for an abortion, so-called “Right to Work” legislation, and now SJR 39.
Last year, the move to PQ essentially shut down the Senate for the rest of the year.
We saw this response on the first floor debate after the filibuster. The Senate Democrats spoke on the previous day’s journal for over six hours. Normally, this point of order takes less than 10 seconds. Once the journal was approved, the loudest proponents of SJR 39 moved to third read and pass.
It passed 23-7.
It’s important we recognize and show thanks for the tireless efforts of Sens. Kiki Curls, Maria Chappelle Nadal, Jamilah Nasheed, Gina Walsh, Jill Schupp, Scott Sifton, Jason Holsman, and Joseph Keavney for representing LGBTQ Missourians and showing the nation we aren’t a state full of bigotry discrimination.
SJR 39 is a piece of legislation designed to bypass the Governor’s veto and go to the vote of the people. It will have to go through the House process before going to the ballot.
There’s still time for Missourians to make their voices heard. Head on over to StopSJR39.org to send a letter to Speaker Richardson, urging him to shut this bill down.