Missouri's House Emerging Issues Committee today voted down a controversial anti-LGBT "religious freedom" bill with a tie 6-6 vote. That effectively kills the bill for this legislative session, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Mike Colona, the only openly gay politician in the Missouri legislature, shared his coming out story during an emotional half-hour of testimony that left many in tears, reports The Kansas City Star. “What you witnessed here today was a reflection of what Missourians are really all about," said Colona.
“The ultimate issue here is whether our state constitution protects all Missourians or grants special rights to some to detriment of others. In the years to come, I am confident today’s action will be remembered as being on the right side of history," said House Minority Leader Jacob Hummel to the Post-Dispatch.
The bill does have a chance of returning in the legislature, if at least 55 members of the House sign on to a procedural move known as a "discharge petition," which would force the bill out of committee and onto the House floor for a full vote, according to the Kansas City Star.
The bill, known as Senate Joint Resolution 39, would have gone on the ballot in November, asking Missouri voters to amend the state constitution to protect “certain religious organizations and individuals from being penalized by the state because of their sincere religious beliefs or practices concerning marriage between two persons of the same sex,” according to the measure’s text. Essentially, the resolution asked voters to approve a broad "right to discriminate" against married same-sex couples and other people who somehow offend an individual's religious sensibilities.
In March, Republicans shut down a record-breaking 39-hour filibuster launched by Senate Democrats who were hoping to defeat the antigay bill. It passed 21-11 after Republican lawmakers broke the filibuster, reports NBC News.
“We thank the House committee for listening to the overwhelming chorus of fair-minded Missourians, business leaders, and civil rights advocates who demanded they oppose this radical legislation that threatens severe harm to the entire state,” said JoDee Winterhof, the Human Rights Campaign's senior vice president for policy and political affairs, in a statement on Wednesday. “However, even with this vote today, we must remain diligent to ensure this discriminatory legislation does not move in any other way during the final two weeks of the legislative session.”