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Extra Shot: An Epic Missouri Senate Filibuster And Its Aftermath

Matt Hodapp
KCUR 89.3
Sen. Jason Holsman (left) spoke with host Brian Ellison.

Missouri Sen. Jason Holsman (D-Kansas City) joined KCUR's Statehouse Blend podcast after leading a 39-hour filibuster in the Missouri Senate.

"It was the longest filibuster in Missouri state history, and we were about five hours away from the longest filibuster recorded in U.S. history," said Holsman.

The eight Senate Democrats were speaking against Senate Joint Resolution 39, a constitutional amendment that prohibits the state from "penalizing clergy, religious organizations, and certain individuals for their religious beliefs concerning marriage between two people of the same sex."

But Holsman said the measure is discriminatory.

"This will allow bakers and florists to hang 'No gays allowed' signs on their doors, legally," said Holsman.


The senator said the amendment, if passed by the House and approved by voters, would not only cause negative economic and social effects, but also deny the human rights of his LGBT constituents.

The resolution's sponsor, Sen. Bob Onder (R-Lake Saint Louis), earlier this week described the bill as a "shield, not a sword," and said it's needed to counteract potential "negative consequences" of last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

"It is the worst piece of legislation I've seen in the ten years that I've been here," Holsman told host Brian Ellison.

Onder and his fellow Republicans ended the filibuster by invoking a parliamentary maneuver called a previous question motion, which Holsman called "the nuclear option."

When Republicans used the procedure to end opposition to so-called "right to work" legislation last session, the Democrats retaliated by shutting down the chamber, refusing to allow votes on almost any legislation.

Holsman said that since Democrats believe they were treated unfairly, the Senate leadership should expect a reprise.

"I think that we need to continue the next week to show the Republicans what it looks like to not have our cooperation," said Holsman. "When you remove our equal rights, then you have removed our desire to cooperate."

If the amendment is approved by the House, Missouri voters will decide its fate later this year. Governor Jay Nixon will decide whether to place the measure on the August or November ballot.

"I think that he will weigh the best chance for defeat," said Holsman.

Brian Ellison is a host/contributor at KCUR; you can follow him @ptsbrian. Matt Hodapp is producer of Statehouse Blend.

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As a host and contributor at KCUR, I seek to create a more informed citizenry and richer community. I want to enlighten and inspire our audience by delivering the information they need with accuracy and urgency, clarifying what’s complicated and teasing out the complexities of what seems simple. I work to craft conversations that reveal realities in our midst and model civil discourse in a divided world. Follow me on Twitter @ptsbrian or email me at brian@kcur.org.