MO Senate approves religious objections bill

Posted at 5:27 PM, Mar 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-09 23:22:36-05

A filibuster by state Democrats came to an end after 39 hours on Wednesday morning at the Missouri General Assembly.

Democrats are fighting a bill that would prohibit individuals and religious groups from facing penalties if they refuse to provide service or products for gay weddings.

"It actually makes it OK for a banquet hall owner to refuse service for a gay wedding reception," explained State Rep. Mike Colona, a Democrat who represents District 67. Colona is the only openly gay member of the Missouri General Assembly.

"I will respect your opinion as a man or woman of faith not to perform my wedding," he explained. "But you're not going to force me to sit at a different table to eat my cake when it comes to my reception."

Supporters of the bill say it allows businesses to have more freedom.

"If these are the products we offer, I think we should have the freedom to offer the products we want to," said State Rep. Gary Cross.

During the long filibuster, some Democrats spoke about movies and shoes to help pass the time.

Republicans forced a preliminary vote on the measure on Wednesday morning, over a day and a half after the debate began.

The bill will now head to the Senate floor for an official vote sometime this session.

If it is approved, it would then move on to the House. If the plan is passed by the full General Assembly, voters would have the ultimate say in November.

Democrats now say they may filibuster every bill for the rest of the 2016 session in protest.

"There's some frustration on what's going to happen with voter ID, anti-choice bills and with some additional anti-labor bills," said Republican State Rep. Colona.

The Missouri General Assembly is scheduled to be in session until mid-May.

Kansas City mayor reacts to religious objections bill

41 Action News spoke exclusively to Mayor Sly James about the Religious Freedom Act.

"We should not ever codify or institutionalize discrimination. It never leads to good," said James.

Indiana passed a similar law in 2015, sparking outrage nationwide and forcing businesses to reassure costumers they would not be discriminated against. James fears the same could happen in Missouri and that businesses may avoid the state altogether.

"When Indiana did this and they had problems, their the governor had to do a Michael Jackson moonwalk so fast because businesses were threatening to leave, conventions were canceling and it hurt the economy," said James.


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