Quyên Nguyen-Le
March 11, 2016 4:47 pm
Maria Chapelle-Nadal / Twitter

This week, Missouri State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal led a group of Democrats in a record-breaking 39-hour filibuster trying to squash an anti-gay bill in her home state. Thirty. nine. hours. As in, they talked non-stop for almost two days. As you’ll recall, a filibuster is when lawmakers intentionally delay voting on a proposed bill by talking about it on the floor until the time for the vote passes. According to the New York Times, the sleep-deprived Democrats divided into shifts in order to continuously hold the senate floor while others took breaks to nap, shower, or change clothes.

Basically, the bill, SJR 39, proposes to amend the Missouri Constitution to prohibit the state from “penalizing clergy, religious organizations, and certain individuals for their religious beliefs concerning marriage between two people of the same sex.” This is one of many reactionary religious freedom bills that have been introduced in various states since the Supreme Court’s ruling last June legalizing gay marriage in the United States.

In effect, the bill would allow those whose religious beliefs infringe on the rights of same-sex couples, including businesses, government employees, and other tax-payer funded entities, to exercise discrimination if they find the existence of LGBTQ love to be in direct conflict with their religious beliefs, despite any local laws or ordinances on the country or city levels that would protect LGBTQ people from such discrimination.

Many worry that the vague wording of the bill could lead to negative consequences beyond just refusing to do wedding ceremonies, and extend to denying social services, education, employment, or housing to married LGBTQ people. For example, religious organizations, which can include schools, charities, and retirement homes, could potentially deny married LGBTQ people housing, employment, social services, and schooling based on “a sincere religious conviction” that LGBTQ people who love each other don’t deserve these things.

Unfortunately, despite best efforts from Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal and eight other Democrats, the bill passed in the Missouri Senate this week, 21-11. There’s still some hope to amend the bill before it’s becomes law, however, since Missouri’s legislative session runs through May 13.

“To stand up for people who’ve been discriminated against and disenfranchised, of course it was worth it,” said Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal said of the filibuster. The conversation continues on Twitter with the hashtag #NotInMyState with widespread support:

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