JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – One Missouri state representative wants the state to recognize marriage as an act between “two individuals” rather than one exclusively between opposite sexes.

Chris Sander (R-District 33), who is openly gay, recently introduced House Joint Resolution 31 to redefine marriage within the state constitution.

According to the resolution, Sander proposes that “a marriage shall exist between “two individuals.” The resolution wants to eliminate language in a current Missouri state statute that “only” recognizes marriage between “a man and a woman.”

While Missouri does not recognize marriage outside a man and a woman in its constitution, same-sex marriage can happen because of federal law.

The Supreme Court upheld federal protections for same-sex marriages through 2015 case Obergefell v. Hodges, ruling that state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. U.S. President Joe Biden also signed the “Respect for Marriage Act” into law last year, further protecting same-sex marriages. The latter was supported by then-outgoing Missouri U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt.

A few days ago, Sander noted that Jackson County Republican Party members in Missouri are voting next week on a motion to possibly “censure” him for introducing HJR31. Sander has previously been elected to two terms as a Republican State Representative while openly gay.

A Gallup poll from last year shows rising support to legalize same-sex marriage withing states, reaching 71% of support in 2022 as opposed to 27% support nearly three decades ago. In a Facebook post Monday, Sander claims that elderly adults, protestants and Republicans have become more supportive of same-sex marriage in recent years.

The resolution has not yet been assigned to a committee yet for a hearing. Because the proposal comes in the form of a resolution and not a bill, Missouri voters would have the final say on whether to recognize same-sex marriages, not the governor, if approved by the General Assembly.