Assembly addresses gay rights

Jefferson City, Mo. – Lesley Proud and Sally Nelson were wed Saturday, March 27 at the Elliot Unitarian Chapel in Kirkwood, Mo. Their marriage has sparked new controversy in the Missouri House of Representatives. Under Missouri law, Proud and Nelson cannot marry because they are both women.

Now, legislators believe a law is not good enough. They want it in the Missouri Constitution.

House Bill 39 states that marriage in the state of Missouri will consist only of the union of a man and a woman, and no license to marry shall be issued except to a man and a woman. Marriage between persons of the same sex, and full faith and credit of such marital status entered into in another state, shall not be recognized as marriage.

Rep. Kevin Engler (R-Farmington) introduced an amendment March 31 that would create greater definition for civil unions recognized in the state of Missouri.

His amendment was questioned as to whether it would take away the rights of couples who had entered into common law marriages in Arkansas and Illinois.

Engler’s amendment was later amended to include common law marriages.

The new amendment included wording intended to better define what kind of marriage Missouri will recognize.

Under the new amendment, no union between persons of the same sex will be recognized as a legal union in the state of Missouri.

This comes after the increased number of states who, while not approving marriage between persons of the same sex, were willing to recognize civil unions.

Opponent of the bill, Rep. Barbara Wall Fraser (D-St. Louis), questioned Engler about his view on civil unions.

“Is it your intent to ban civil unions?” Fraser said.

“It is my intent not to recognize them at all,” Engler said.

Rep. Philip Willoughby (D-Gladstone) questioned Rep. Richard Byrd (R-Kirkwood0) about the weekend wedding.

“Did you know about the wedding?” Willoughby said.

“Yes, it was in my county,” Byrd said.

“Did you attend Rep. Byrd?” Willoughby said.

Byrd said he did not attend the wedding and that the union did not matter because the couple was unable to get a marriage license.

“A minister conducts nothing,” Byrd said.

“He is just a witness. It is just fluff, it is not relevant to the legal act of marriage.”

The house has yet to make a final decision on the bill.