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Missouri GOP may punish gay MAGA congressman for acknowledging same-sex marriages exist

Missouri Rep. Chris Sander campaign photo
Photo: Campaign Photo

The Jackson County Republican Party of Missouri is considering ways it can punish an openly gay state representative for proposing a constitutional amendment to redefine marriages in the state as between “two individuals” rather than “one man and one woman.”

On Monday night, Jackson County Republican committee members met at Tiff N Jay’s sports bar in Lee’s Summit Monday night to vote on whether to censure openly gay state Rep. Chris Sander, a self-described MAGA Republican. Sander had introduced the amendment to bring Missouri into line with federal law, which recognizes same-sex unions.

Missouri voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2004 defining marriage as between “one man and one woman.” In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned statewide bans on same-sex marriage nationwide, rendering Missouri’s amendment moot.

In 2022, the federal Respect for Marriage Act ensured same-sex and interracial couples’ marriages would be recognized regardless of future Supreme Court rulings. 

The resolution to censure Sander was filed by party committee member Dave Thomas from Grandview. It read in part: “Marriage is valid as defined only between one man and one woman according to nature and nature’s God, and this truth is held by us to be self-evident and unalienable.”

Thomas, a missionary at the International House of Prayer in Grandview, describes himself as “a passionate lover of God” and an advocate for “Government on earth as it is in Heaven.” Thomas claims, “Only the Nations who believe Jesus is Lord are truly blessed.”

Thomas’ resolution further stated that any member of the party, in addition to Sander, could be censured for trying to define marriage as anything other than between a man and a woman.

According to Sander, following the failed censure vote, party members agreed to form a committee to consider censuring the Republican rep or other punitive options in the future.

“I think I’m doing the right thing,” Sander told the Kansas City Star. “If the party is lagging behind me, I need to be patient. But I have no patience, so I will continue trying to move forward.”

35 U.S. states currently have same-sex marriage bans on the books or written into their constitutions. While those prohibitions were rendered dormant after Obergefell v. Hodges, if the Supreme Court were to overturn that landmark decision, they could again be activated, despite the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act. That law, passed in December, requires all states to recognize same-sex marriages, but it doesn’t require states to issue marriage certificates for them.

Last week, Republicans in Virginia’s House of Delegates blocked efforts to repeal that state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

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