JEFFERSON CITY— The House on Thursday passed a proposed constitutional amendment barring gay marriage — a move supporters said would guard against activist judges but opponents criticized as discriminatory.
On a 124-19 announced vote, the House sent its version of the proposed amendment of the Missouri Constitution to the Senate. The Senate has passed a simpler version and that bill is pending in the House.
If the House and Senate eventually agree on the same language, the proposed amendment would go on the November ballot unless Gov. Bob Holden sets the matter for a special election.
Opponents and supporters weigh in
Missouri already has a state law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
But supporters say that recognition must be placed in the state constitution so that a judge could not overturn the state law. They often point to a court decision in Massachusetts declaring it unconstitutional to prohibit same-sex marriage in that state, which did not have a state law limiting marriage to one man and one woman.
Rep. Therese Sander, R-Moberly, said the debate on the topic “is totally ignoring the centuries-old reason for which marriage exists — for conceiving and raising a healthy, well-adjusted citizenry. ... Procreation is an integral part of the marriage covenant. A homosexual marriage in no way can achieve that in a natural way.”
Opponents say Missouri’s existing statute is sufficient to prevent gay marriage and that putting the restriction in the constitution is needless and demeaning.
“I think this amendment is an affront. All persons are created equal and are entitled to equal rights and opportunities under the law,” said Rep. Vicki Walker, D-Kansas City. “This amendment takes that and spits on it.”
The Senate proposal would amend the Missouri Constitution to state: “That to be valid and recognized in this state, a marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman.”
The House proposal also says marriage shall only be between a man and a woman, but it further says that the state won’t recognize anything “treated as a marriage” in other states or countries, other than one between a man and a woman.