Marriage would be restricted to "the union of a man and a woman" under a proposed amendment to the Missouri constitution. The proposal, which was being considered Tuesday evening by the children and families committee of the house, would go before voters in November if approved by the legislature.
Although Missouri already has a Defense of Marriage law, supporters say a constitutional amendment is needed to ensure that court judgments--such as the recent ruling in favor of gay marriage by the Massachusetts supreme judicial court--cannot compel recognition of same-sex unions. Lawmakers in several other states are proposing similar constitutional amendments this year, and President Bush has indicated he also would support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would limit marriage to a man and a woman. Bush says such a move would be needed only if "activist judges" overruled existing federal and state marriage laws.
Missouri is one of 37 states that have Defense of Marriage acts saying marriage can be only between a man and a woman. Rep. Kevin Engler, one of the sponsors of the proposed Missouri amendment, said he doesn't approach the issue from a "fundamentalist" religious standpoint but from a populist one. "I don't want to condemn or pontificate about the biblical implications," said Engler (R-Farmington). "We have to make a decision. I think it should be for the people to decide."
Opponents derided the proposal as a violation of civil rights.