State Rep. T.J. Berry (R-Kearney)

State Rep. T.J. Berry of the Kansas City suburb of Kearney has pre-filed again legislation that would replace marriage licenses with contracts of domestic union. A controversial resolution that died in a state House committee in 2016 has prompted the Republican to file the legislation for the third year in a row. That resolution would have protected churches and businesses from penalties for denying goods and services for gay weddings.

Berry, who is a Southern Baptist and ordained deacon, has called his proposal a compromise to the resolution by taking marriage out of the government’s hands and leaving the issue up to churches.

His 377-page legislation would still allow the government benefits that apply to all married couples.

Berry’s bill would likely have an uphill battle by some heterosexual and gay individuals who want marriage to be formally acknowledge. It did not receive a hearing during this year’s legislative session.

Berry, a senior member in the Missouri House, was first elected in 2010 and is serving his final year in 2018.