JEFFERSON CITY — A bill dubbed the “Marriage Bill” was voted down in a split decision during a Legislative Oversight Committee hearing Thursday morning.

House Bill 2173 would have replaced text in Missouri’s definition of marriage, changing it to a domestic union.

Rep. Adam Schnetling, R-St. Charles, sponsored the bill and said he thinks his bill is better known as the “Get Government out of Marriage” bill.

“It describes marriage based upon its legal definition, nothing more, nothing less,” Schnetling said. “Its legal definition is a civil contract. Our law has always considered marriage law — marriage contract law — as a civil contract.”

Schnetling said his bill would help to scale back government oversight.

“With the over-involvement of government, things get messy,” he said. “Over time, we’ve gotten accustomed to the idea of government being overly involved in marriage.”

Rep. Sarah Unsicker, D-Shrewsbury, who spoke out against HB 2173 during Thursday morning’s committee meeting, said this blurs the lines of marriage.

“It’s clear what happens with married couples but not couples that have a contract of domestic union,” Unsicker said.

She said if she was to work on changing the bill, she would clarify the definition of key components.

“What a contract of domestic union is ... (is) that people in these contracts are entitled to the full benefits of federal law,” Unsicker said.

Unsicker also spoke on how the bill delves into religion. But Schnetling said he’d like to see where that text is in his bill.

“How is (religion) a part of it? That’s what I would say,” Schnetling said. “Because when you look at the bill, where’s it at? This is about restoring the government to its proper role.”

Unsicker said this bill doesn’t just blur the lines of marriage, it acts as an attack on the LGBTQ community.

“I think this is an attempt to invalidate gay marriage, which has constitutional protection under the Supreme Court,” she said.

Schnetling said his bill is in no way an attack on LGBTQ individuals.

“It’s clearly not. The bill treats everyone equally under the law,” he said.

While the bill was voted down today and is done for the current session, Schnetling said he hopes this starts a conversation for next session.

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