A constitutional amendment to strengthen religious freedom protections will likely go to voters after the Missouri Senate ended a 39-hour filibuster by the proposal’s foes.
The measure would specially protect churches and other organizations with objections to same-sex marriage. The Missouri Catholic Conference has called it “a good faith effort to protect the dignity of all persons and uphold religious liberty.”
Senate Democrats led a filibuster to block the proposed amendment until Senate Republicans used a procedural move to end the debate March 9. The proposal passed the Senate by a final vote of 23-9 on March 7.
If the Republican-controlled House of Representatives also approves the measure, it will appear on the Missouri ballot in an August primary election or in the November general election.
The amendment would bar penalties for religious organizations “on the basis that the organization believes or acts in accordance with a sincere religious belief concerning marriage between two persons of the same sex.” It would also ensure that photographers and others who provide artistic products or services for weddings are not penalized due to sincerely held religious beliefs regarding same-sex marriage.
Sen. Bob Onder, a Republican, said the proposal was carefully worded so that it “protects churches, pastors, religious organizations in a very well-defined class of individuals from being penalized, targeted, and persecuted on the basis of their religious beliefs,” CNN reports.
Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, opposed the constitutional amendment. He praised the filibuster on Twitter, saying its participants were “standing on the right side of history and against discrimination.”
Efforts to strengthen religious freedom protections in states like Arizona and Indiana have prompted economic threats from LGBT activists and their allies in major businesses.
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