[UPDATE 3/9: The amendment passed the Senate after Republicans used a controversial procedure to end a 39-hour Democratic filibuster. The measure now moves to the House.]
Several Missouri State Senators are waging a filibuster in an attempt to derail a proposed constitutional amendment modeled after First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) legislation introduced in Congress. Senate Joint Resolution 39 would bar the state’s government from penalizing individuals or religious organizations for discriminating, for religious reasons, against same-sex couples in a variety of settings, including refusing to provide adoption services, or services related to wedding ceremonies.
Associated Press reports that debate began Monday afternoon, and that the filibuster delayed a vote on the measure.
House Speaker Todd Richardson said Tuesday that lawmakers feel an urgency to act this election year; otherwise, the amendment might have to wait until the 2018 ballot.
“Religious liberty is important, and we’ve got a lot of people who are talking about it,” said Richardson, a Republican from Poplar Bluff.
The Democratic filibuster in the Senate is one of the few tactics the minority party can use to fight bills with strong Republican backing.
Democrats argued the measure unfairly targets same-sex couples and could mean the state loses out on prospective employees turned off by the policy.
Democratic Sen. Jill Schupp, of the St. Louis suburb of Creve Coeur, said some individuals, businesses and organizations “would be given permission to discriminate” if the amendment is approved.
If SJR passes both the Senate and the House, it would be placed on the November ballot for a statewide vote.