Expecting that the House Emerging Issues Committee would be holding a vote on the resolution on Wednesday evening, opponents of Missouri's problematic SJR 39 were let-down when the committee postponed what was predicted to be a close vote until next week. The legislation calls for an amendment to the Missouri Constitution that would allow businesses and taxpayer-funded organizations to ignore laws that conflicts with their “sincere religious belief concerning marriage between two persons of the same sex.”
“A few of them (committee members) have asked for more time, because they’ve gotten legal memos just today and they’ve asked for more time to consider them,” Rep. Elijah Haahr, the committee's chair, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last night. “I think the members are doing their best to try to make a determination about whether to move the bill forward."
News outlets are reporting that the bill did not have the necessary support needed to get out of committee, prompting the Republican leadership to push the voting back.
“They knew we had killed the bill tonight,” Rep. Mike Colona told The Missouri Times.
The announcement came after an active day at the Missouri Capitol. LGBT activists and allies from around the state gathered for their annual Equality Day, during which opponents of SJR 39 lobbied members of the Emerging Issues and General Laws committees to oppose the resolution. Attendees included Michael Sam, a former University of Missouri football player and first openly gay player drafted into the NFL.
Missouri ACLU Director of Policy and Advancement Sarah Rossi, who had spent the whole day at the capitol, was exasperated about the delayed vote.
"We’re disappointed that the vote wasn’t held tonight,” she said to The Missouri Times. “There are a lot of people waiting to see what their fate holds for them as an LGBT person in Missouri. I’m not sure if it’s a good sign or a bad sign, but it’s frustrating.”
We agree. With the momentum on our side, it’s a shame that the vote was delayed to avoid a loss. Americans United and allied organizations in this fight will need to keep the pressure on for another week.
Do you miss last week's House Emerging Issues Committee hearing on SJR 39? You can relive the night through tweets and video on our Storify.