Republicans in Missouri’s state senate have broken a nearly 40-hour Democratic filibuster and voted to pass an anti-gay bill that would legally protect persons and organizations actively opposed to same-sex marriage.
The GOP state senate passed the bill, Senate Joint Resolution 39 (SJR 39), with an overwhelming 23-9 vote Wednesday morning.
This vote cut off the debate on whether to pass SJ 39 to the next stage of voting and effectively killed the filibuster. The bill must still go before the Missouri state senate one more time before going to the state house of representatives.
It is expected to pass in the House if it is approved by the Senate.
Democrats are legislatively a minority in Missouri, but they had possessed the mic since Monday afternoon, trading off in three-hour shifts to decry legislation widely seen as prejudicial and contradictory to the legal precedent set forth by SCOTUS’ Obergefell decision, which has seen many states attempt to circumvent the court’s ruling.
If enacted, SJR 39 would create a constitutional amendment that prohibits the state from penalizing clergy, religious organizations, and individuals who act on their religious beliefs against marriage between two people of the same-sex.
Republican Senator Bob Onder, who originally sponsored the bill, issued a statement on Tuesday responding to the bill’s many critics. “This bill does NOT discriminate,” it said “We are fighting for fairness and the right for people to freely live out their faith while not infringing on the rights of others. This is not about discrimination; it’s about liberty.”
The Republican caucus tweeted that the bill was “a shield, not a sword.”
— MOSenMajorityCaucus (@MOSenMajority) March 8, 2016
Major corporations based in Missouri have argued otherwise and reaffirmed their commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
“At Monsanto we remain committed to diversity and inclusion for all,” said spokesperson Charla Lord for Missouri-based agricultural giant Monsato, “This legislation would be contrary to that position.” Monsanto is calling on other businesses and the agricultural community to join the community in speaking out against discrimination here in our home state of Missouri and around the world.”
The St Louis Chamber of Commerce also weighed in, saying SJR 39 “sends the message to the rest of the country that Missouri condones discrimination.”
So did Dow Chemical, which maintains several chemical plants in the state.
— Dow (@DowChemical) March 8, 2016
Missouri currently lacks a state law protecting LGBT people from discrimination.