A 39-hour filibuster led by Democratic legislators in Missouri ended Wednesday morning when Missouri Republicans voted 21-11 on a controversial bill that will add more religious protections to people against same-sex marriage.
The bill, known as Senate Joint Resolution 39, will prohibit the state of Missouri from “penalizing clergy, religious organizations, and certain individuals for their religious beliefs concerning marriage between two people of the same sex.”
According to The Gaily Grind, Republican state Senator Bob Onder, who sponsored the bill, believes the proposed bill “is entirely defensive, in that it prevents state and local governments from imposing penalties. It is a shield, not a sword.”
Democrat and Missouri Governor, Jay Nixon, praised the senators’ efforts in a tweet, stating they are “standing on the right side of history.”
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz also tweeted on the issue, urging senators to #DefendReligiousLiberty.
Several LGBT organizations have released statements against the bill, arguing that it promotes discrimination against the LGBT community, rather than those who practice their religion.
“Religious freedom is one of our nation’s fundamental values, and that’s why it’s firmly protected in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” said Human Rights Campaign legal director Sarah Warbelow. “This reckless legislation has nothing to do with religious freedom and everything to do with enabling discrimination against LGBT Missourians and their families. Discrimination against LGBT people should never be sanctioned by the state, and we call on the Missouri House of Representatives to resoundingly reject this outrageous resolution.”
PROMO Missouri Executive Director Steph Perkins shares a similar opinion.
“We agree that religion is a fundamental right, which is why it is protected in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and in our existing Human Rights Act. We are not arguing that clergy and churches should be denied their freedom of religion,” said Perkins. “But those same religious beliefs cannot be used as a reason to deny someone the same services that are offered to the rest of the public by private businesses. And that is exactly what SJR 39 aims to do. Businesses and organizations have already been rightly concerned about the consequences of this bill and are outspoken in their opposition.”
Senate Joint Resolution 39 has yet to be voted on in the Republican-led House. According to NBC news, if passed it would be given to statewide voters in either the August primary or November general election.