Joint resolution affirming marriage approved by committee
By Allen Palmeri
February 3, 2004
JEFFERSON CITY – A joint resolution affirming marriage as between a man and a woman passed 8-6 in the House of Representatives Children and Families Committee Jan. 27.
Reps. Jim Avery, R-Crestwood, Brian Baker, R-Belton, Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau and Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, have all sponsored separate joint resolutions with similar language. The committee voted to combine all four into one.
“There will probably be an amendment on the House floor to make sure that all of our ducks are in a row, that the language is aligned together," said Baker, noting that the Senate is also working on a joint resolution. “We want it to be a more positive affirmation of marriage rather than the banning of anything else."
Any resolution passed by the House and Senate will be to amend Missouri’s Constitution and will go to voters for ratification later this year, perhaps in August or November.
Baker, assistant pastor and ministry director at First Baptist Church, Belton, stood with Engler to take the brunt of pro-homosexual questioners at the hearing. Crowell, the majority floor leader, remained in the background as an intense observer.
Baker, Crowell and Engler are individual sponsors of resolutions with precisely the same language. That joint resolution reads:
“Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman, and no license to marry shall issue 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."
Avery’s resolution is a bit more concise:
“Marriage in this state shall 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 shall not be recognized for any purpose whatsoever."
Baker said that all four sponsors are united on this issue.
“We’re all very frightened of judicial activism and judicial legislative power," Baker said. “I think there’s a real concern that judges are legislating from the bench for the sake of partisan politics, and I believe that there’s got to be some stop to that."
Avery, Baker, Crowell and Engler are concerned about gains the homosexual movement has made in states like Hawaii, Vermont and Massachusetts—gains that could lead to homosexual “marriage" being legislated from the bench in one state and applied to Missouri.
“I believe that there are some natural laws that we need to adhere to," Baker said. “Men and women were created for one another, and we should seek to benefit from that type of relationship. We should seek to strengthen families."
A phalanx of five female Democrats on the panel opposed all the proposed resolutions, calling them “unnecessary," and “an over-reaction," stating that Missouri law already defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
Rep. Larry Morris, R-Springfield, and a member of Cherry Street Baptist Church, was not persuaded by the Democrats.
“If you do not believe that there is a homosexual agenda, I will sell you a number of bridges," he told those opposing the resolution.
A homosexual man was one of four people to speak in opposition to the resolution.
“Obviously, I don’t think this bill is a great idea," he said.
Rep. Bryan Stevenson, R-Webb City and vice chairman of the committee, commended the man for his courage in speaking before the panel. Stevenson, an attorney, went on to cross-examine the man.
“What about an individual who wishes to marry his mother, or a young woman who wishes to marry her father? Should that (the right to marry) extend to individuals who wish to marry siblings?"
“No," the homosexual man said.
“So you do agree that the state has the right to limit marriage to certain individuals and to prohibit it to others?"
“When there is a vested state interest, and it’s for the good of the whole state, sure."
Kerry Messer, lobbyist for the Christian Life Commission of the Missouri Baptist Convention, said it is for the good of the whole state to advance this joint resolution out of both chambers of the General Assembly and onto a statewide ballot later this year.
“The question here is to what degree are we going to go to protect marriage," Messer said.
“We are at risk. We definitely need to put an amendment to our state constitution to protect us, that marriage in Missouri would be protected from the courts and also from another state that would impose a homosexual agenda upon the citizens of the state of Missouri ."
It is believed that some sort of resolution to give voters the chance to amend the constitution will emerge from lawmakers before the session ends.