A vote has been delayed by a House committee on a gay marriage proposal. The measure would ask voters if religious organizations and businesses should be protected from penalties for refusing services for same-sex weddings.
Chairman Elijah Haahr (R-Springfield) says committee members asked for more time.
“I’m leaning towards supporting the bill in its current form,” said Haahr. “As I said from the beginning, I have a membership of twelve committee members and it’s a majority vote. I’m not going to force them to go one way or the other. They get to vet the bill and they get to decide whether or not it should be amended, passed or voted down.”
Haahr says committee members are considering an abundance of written testimony.
“I’m sure several of them don’t like the entire bill or don’t like certain portions of the bill. That’s what the hearing was for last week. As I said, they asked for more time to consider it and I said that was fine,” said Haahr.
With three weeks left in the session, Haahr says delaying a vote could keep the resolution from passing this year. Senate Minority Leader Joe Keaveny (D-St. Louis) hopes the proposal doesn’t pass in the House.
“I’ve heard a lot of rumors. I’ve heard the votes aren’t there. I’ve heard the votes are there. There’s an incredible amount of pressure on some of the people, especially from the business community,” said Keaveny. “I don’t know where it goes. With three weeks left, I don’t envision the House spending a lot of time on it. They’ve also got important bills that they want to pass.”
Backers don’t want the measure to be changed in the House, because that would require the Senate to consider it again. It was the subject of a record filibuster in the Senate before it passed there, so sending it back to that chamber would likely kill it.
Opponents of the resolution say it would build into the Constitution protections for those who discriminate against the LGBT community. Proponents say it would protect the rights of those with religious objections.