JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri senators have their eyes set on Hawaii, but it has nothing to do with summer recess.
It is widely expected that the Hawaii Supreme Court will rule to make same-sex marriages legal, possibly as early as August. If that happens, some believe, a same-sex couple could fly to Hawaii, get married, return to Missouri, and the state would have to recognize the couple as married.
For the Senate this is unacceptable. The body overwhelmingly endorsed a bill Wednesday that would ban same-sex marriages, no matter where they occur.
Other states also have been working on similar laws in light of the situation in Hawaii. Because no state has ever issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples, there has never been a need to put such laws on the books before, said the bill's sponsor Sen. Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau.
"What we're facing if we don't have this on the books is the potential dissolution of the marriage contract, traditionally understood as a contract between a man, a woman and God, which the state gives legal sanction to," he said.
The bill easily won the approval of senators, who clearly stood against homosexuality. When it came time for Sen. John Scott, D-St. Louis, to vote, he squealed in a high-pitched effeminate voice, prompting the Senate to burst into laughter.
"I don't know anything about homosexual relationships, and I don't want to know anything about homosexual relationships," said Sen. Jerry Howard, D-Dexter. "I feel uncomfortable in their company, for whatever reason."
Sen. Joe Moseley, D-Columbia, one of the few to vote against the bill, said the Senate's action might be premature -- because there hasn't yet been a decision in Hawaii -- and prove costly. If the bill becomes law, he said, it would surely face an expensive court challenge.
"I don't believe it's necessary, and I believe it's untimely," Moseley said. "By acting now, we set ourselves up for a law suit."
Only one senator, William Clay, D-St. Louis, directly challenged the bill's intent to ban same-sex marriages.
"It (the bill) gets at freedom in this country, and how we continuously chip away at that freedom," he said.