Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Missouri Republicans End Democrat-Led Filibuster Over "License To Discriminate" Bill

Missouri state legislature

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

After more than 36 hours of non-stop debate, Republicans who control the Missouri Senate shut down a Democrat-led filibuster of a controversial same-sex marriage proposal early Wednesday.

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 Senate then voted 23-9 to give the proposal preliminary approval. A final vote is expected Thursday before the measure moves to the House for further action. If approved by the House and Senate, the measure will be sent to the ballot for voter approval.

The record-setting marathon ended with anger from Democratic lawmakers and signs of relief from Republicans with a lack of sleep the only common ground between them.

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders tweeted their support. State Sen. Wendy Davis of Texas — who gained notoriety after her own filibuster in 2013 — also praised the Democrats’ efforts.

Sen. Bob Onder, the sponsor, said the constitutional amendment is necessary so photographers, bakers and others aren’t “commandeered” into participating in same-sex marriages or receptions. The Lake Saint Louis Republican also wants to make sure churches don’t lose any tax benefits they have now if they oppose gay marriage.

If approved by voters, Democrats say it would enshrine discrimination against gays into the state constitution.

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