This Missouri Filibuster Trying To Stop An Anti-LGBT Bill Was So Epic, It Had To Be Shut Down
Before being shut down by state Republicans, the filibuster in the Missouri Senate to stop an anti-LGBT "religious liberty" amendment to the state constitution was frankly epic. Democrats started the evening Tuesday night by saying there was no end in site to their protest, calling the bill "blatant, hateful, discrimination." Their hours of protest included discussions on Star Wars trivia, fellow senators' fashion choices, and how to pronounce the state's name: Missouri or Missourah? That is, in addition of course to talk on the importance LGBT rights and equality. Unfortunately, it didn't work.
The GOP-controlled senate stopped those discussions at about 7:20 a.m. local time by passing a PQ, or the previous question. That's a little-used method to shut off debate. It is very rarely used in the Missouri Senate and is considered a "nuclear option" by some (it has only been used in the Missouri Senate 14 times since 1970 — one of which was in 2015 during the debate of a right-to-work bill). The bill, known as Senate Joint Resolution 39, went on to pass, 21 to 11, Wednesday morning. Before this unfortunate turn of events, Democrats threatened the filibuster could last through the weekend. It is perhaps the longest filibuster on record in Missouri, running more than 39 hours.
One of the main Senate Democrats to keep the floor was Maria Chappelle-Nadal, a senator representing suburbs north of St. Louis, including Ferguson. She kept the debate going until a recess was called at about 5:10 a.m. local time. The recess was meant to last just about 30 minutes, but in the end the session didn't recommence until the movement on the PQ began.
Until that last recess, Chappelle-Nadal was on a roll. A highlight reel of her comments is surely in the works. She went back and forth between LGBT rights and other issues important to her constituents like illnesses caused by toxic waste, always keeping a light tone. She pointed out that one of her fellow senators was breaking the rules wearing a seersucker suit before spring break. "It's a shame but I do like the seersucker," she said.
She also called out Republicans for using pillows on their desks and asked about how to friend request a former senator who's now a flight attendant. "Is she on your Facebook?" she asked. "Because I need to friend her. She had a great personality." Twitter liked her too.
The bill has been called discriminatory by the Democratic governor, so not all hope is lost. If it were to pass, though, the next step would be taken to add an amendment to the Missouri constitution that would protect religious organizations and individuals who oppose same-sex marriage from any civil "penalty." They would no longer need to provide "expressional and artistic" goods and services to people celebrating a marriage or similar ceremony.
Sure, you don't want a homophobic photographer taking pictures at your wedding, nor a hater baking your cake. But codifying discrimination into the law — and in this case the constitution — is not a good move. Nice job, Missouri Democrats!