A same-sex marriage proposal has failed in a House committee, but with enough support the issue could come up on the House floor this session. By a split vote, the measure failed in committee Wednesday with three Republicans voting against it – Ann Zerr, Caleb Rowden and Jim Hansen.
The measure would ask voters if religious organizations and businesses should be protected in the state Constitution from penalties and lawsuits for refusing services in gay weddings. Opponents say the proposal would protection discrimination against same-sex couples while supporters say it would protect those with religious objections to gay marriage.
Senator Bob Onder (R-Lake St. Louis) says there are ways to keep his proposal alive.
“I’m not familiar with all the details of House procedure, whether that might be an option available to the sponsors. Certainly, anything that can be done to get the voters a chance to vote on this, I’d be in favor of,” said Onder.
Representative Paul Curtman (R-Union) is carrying the resolution in the House and five Republicans are co-sponsoring it.
In order for the measure to stay alive this session, House supporters have at least two options. One of those committee members who voted against the proposal would have to change his or her mind and request that it be brought back up.
For the full House to bring it up, at least 55 members would have to sign a petition relieving the committee of the bill. The petition would have to be published in the House Journal and the discharged bill would have to be placed upon the chamber’s regular business calendar.
If the measure doesn’t advance, Onder says it could be back again.
“Whether next year or in the future, I think religious liberty is not going to be an issue that will go away,” said Onder.
Two of those Republicans who voted against the resolution – Zerr and Rowden – are running for the state Senate. Voting against their colleagues on a Republican-driven issue could impact their campaigns.
“I don’t want to go into specific legislators and specific races, but I believe that protecting religious liberty is not a bad political position to take. In all honestly, doing the right thing should take precedent over political expediency,” said Onder.
The measure passed in the Senate at the beginning of March after a record filibuster by Democrats. Republicans killed debate by using a controversial procedural maneuver, leading Democrats to slow Senate business for a few days.