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Sex Lives and Legislation

April 12, 1996
By: Claudia Gabarain
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Sex lives have become a target for some unusual parliamentary moves by Republican House legislators.

A third of the House legislators - all Republican - made a request Tuesday (April 9) to take out of committee two bills that would ban same-sex marriages and the adoption of children by couples involved in homosexual activities.

By implementing this procedure, the bills do not have to be debated or voted in their committee and go directly to the full House.

The sponsor of both bills is Rep. Glenn Hall, R-Grain Valley. He said this was the only possibility he saw to get a vote on them. "They're (the democrats) keeping it from coming to the light of day."

Hall said he thinks that the Children, Youth and Families Committee chairman, Pat Dougherty, D-St Louis City, has been postponing the hearing on purpose. "These are bills the Democrats don't want to pass, so the chairman worked things out so the bills would die," Hall said.

Dougherty denied Hall's claim. "These bills were treated no differently than any other, we left the usual two-week period to make changes." He said that if the bills died in the calendar, the reason would be that they had been filed too late.

Hall's reasons to push these bills are, in his words, that "homosexuality is an immoral lifestyle, but not only that: it's also been recognized as a crime."

Homosexuality is now a crime in Missouri, but a bill intended to decriminalize this practice was voted out of committee this session for the first time. However, it has been placed so late in the calendar that it will probably die.

Hall says one of the ways the homosexual community is trying to expand their acceptance by society "is through acceptance or legitimizing what they call homosexual marriage."

"My view," Hall said, "is that if we actually accept and condone homosexual marriage, then we go to the point where we'll undermine the moral foundations of our social order."

Dougherty said the bills were very controversial. "There's never been bills like these and I'd guess there would be a major fight (in the House), but they would pass."

But Hall did not have any hope that the bills would get to the House floor. Once in the constitutional calendar, it is up to the House Democratic leadership to decide if the bills get there and when.

"The problem is that the leadership of the Democrats is keeping them away from a vote, just to appease a part of their constituency, which is the homosexual community."

An aide to the House speaker Steve Gaw, D-Moberly, said Hall's two bills would not be taken up by the House until the House finishes work on all the other House bills awaiting action. Because of the long list of other bills awaiting action, that effectively would kill Hall's proposals.