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Missouri lawmaker says he won’t revive religious exemptions amendment

Missouri lawmaker says he won’t revive religious exemptions amendment

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri lawmaker behind a failed attempt to “protect” some businesses opposed to same-sex marriage doesn’t plan to try again next year, he told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The proposed constitutional amendment by Republican Sen. Bob Onder would have banned government penalties against individuals and business such as florists or photographers who cite “a sincere religious belief” while declining to provide “services of expressional or artistic creation” for same-sex weddings and receptions.

It drew hundreds of people on both sides of the issue to rallies at the Capitol and spurred a coalition of businesses opposed to the amendment. Republicans forced an end to a historic 37-hour Democratic filibuster and sent the measure to the House, where it died in committee.

“The Senate spent a lot of time and a lot of political capital on getting SJR 39 done, only to have it stall in the House,” said Onder, of Lake St. Louis. “I don’t have any plans to go through that with my colleagues again this year.”

He said he’ll wait and see if House members take action, but added that some lawmakers would take action quickly to pass protections if any Missouri businesses are punished for not providing services for weddings of same-sex couples.

“It’s an issue that’s not likely to go away, but I don’t think it’s going to be a major focus of the session,” Onder said.

No similar measures have been filed in advance of the 2017 session, which starts in January. One Republican House member is proposing a bill to allow clergy and others to refuse to perform marriages against their religious beliefs, something likely already protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

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