Associated Press: Local advocates, business owners watching religious objection bill closely

Brett Reyes | 11 March, 2016, 23:35

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Democrats in the Missouri Senate say there is no end in sight for their filibuster over a proposal to add greater religious protections to the state Constitution for some business owners and individuals opposed to gay marriage. Similar to so-called “First Amendment Defense Act” legislation introduced in other states, this outrageous and extreme resolution would lead to a ballot measure that proposes to allow individuals, organizations, and businesses to use religion as a valid excuse to discriminate against LGBT people by broadly redefining the definition of religious organizations.

The Missouri proposal, which could go before voters later this year, highlights the tension between civil rights and religious liberties that still exist in many parts of the nation following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that legalized same-sex marriages in all states. They will have another chance to filibuster when the measure is brought up for a final Senate vote.

A 39-hour filibuster conducted by Democratic legislators aiming to hold up the vote on a “ religious freedom ” bill has been stopped.

Associated Press reports that debate began Monday afternoon, and that the filibuster delayed a vote on the measure.

Republicans used a parliamentary maneuver, known as the previous question, to end the blockade, which had put a national focus on a GOP-sponsored measure to shield clergy, wedding vendors and religious organizations from penalties if they oppose same-sex marriage. The measure would prohibit government penalties against some businesses and individuals who cite religious beliefs while declining to provide wedding-related services to same-sex couples. These unsafe bills and potential constitutional amendments only succeed in showing people Missouri is not a welcoming state. Jill Schupp, who offered rainbow-sprinkled cupcakes to senators. Per the rules of the legislature, the bill will have to make it through another vote in the Senate before it gets sent down to the House.

“You call it conscious protection; I call it blatant discrimination”, said Democratic Sen.

Missouri Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe (right) talks with reporters as fellow Republican Sen.

Democrats argued the measure unfairly targets same-sex couples and could mean the state loses out on prospective employees turned off by the policy.

Republicans defended the measure.

Together as small businesses, faith leaders, corporations, and nonprofits, we say #NotInMyState.

In 1999, Senate Democrats filibustered for over 38 hours against an abortion bill, but that was spread over five legislative days.

The newspaper said that for nearly 40 hours, they spoke on a range of topics in hopes of delaying and derailing the bill, on topics that ranged from George Washington to local authors to the Democratic presidential candidates.

“We still have a lot of time left in the session”, Keaveny said.

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