Same-sex marriage in Missouri
Part 2: 2014-JUN to SEP:
Response to the four couples married in St Louis.
Hearings for ACLU-MO's Barrier v. Vasterling case.
The acronym "LGBT" refers to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender/Transsexual community.
2014-JUN-26: Response to the four same-sex couples who just married in St Louis, MO:
Attorney General Chris Koster (D) was not impressed at the irregular marriages on JUN-25. The next morning he issued a statement, saying:
"While I personally support the goal of marriage equality, my duty as Attorney General is to defend the laws of the state of Missouri. While many people in Missouri have changed their minds regarding marriage equality, Missourians have yet to change their constitution.
Cases currently pending in Jefferson City and Kansas City regarding the constitutionality of Missouri's ban against same-sex marriage will be decided in the coming months. Regardless of my personal support for marriage equality, such vital questions cannot be decided by local county officials acting in contravention of state law.
Therefore, I have asked the St. Louis Circuit Court to prevent the St. Louis City Recorder of Deeds from issuing such marriage licenses until this matter can be resolved by our state's judiciary." 1
He did not mention that a portion of his oath of office requires him to obey the federal Constitution which many courts have interpreted as necessitating states treating same-sex and opposite-sex couples equally in marriage.
Apparently, the city took this action in order to make a strong statement challenging the constitutional ban against such marriages. The recorder of deeds did not issue any more marriage licenses after the original four.
Koster's request became the lawsuit "State of Missouri v. Florida." (Florida refers to Jennifer Florida, the new Recorder of Deeds and Vital Records
Registrar, of the City of St. Louis) More details.
Developments in the lawsuit Barrier v. Vasterling during 2014:
- On 2014-FEB-11, the American Civil Liberties Association of Missouri had filed a class action lawsuit in state court titled Barrier v. Vasterling. Plaintiffs originally consisted of eight same-sex couples who had been legally married out-of-state. They asked that their marriages be recognized in Missouri. According to the ACLU:
" The eight couples, some together for more than 30 years, and several raising children, are excluded from most state and some federal protections available to opposite-sex married couples." 2
The lawsuit was filed in a state court: the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit Court of Jackson County, in the western portion of Missouri.
Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri said:
"Because of the many benefits of marriage, Missouri has traditionally recognized lawful marriages performed in other states. We know that the people of Missouri are fair-minded and did not intend to harm these eight families and others like them throughout Missouri. But our current laws do harm them. 2
Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, said:
"Our courts and our society have discarded, one by one, marriage laws that violated the Constitution’s mandate of equality, such as anti-miscegenation laws and laws that denied married women legal independence and the right to make decisions for themselves. History has taught us that the vitality of marriage does not depend on maintaining such discriminatory laws. To the contrary, eliminating these unconstitutional restraints on the freedom to marry has enhanced the institution. 2
The original plaintiff couples are:
- Janice Barrier and Sherie Schild - married in 2009, and have been a couple for more than 30 years;
- Lisa Layton-Brinker and JoDe Layton-Brinker - married in 2010, together for six years, their family includes three children, ages 17, 20, and 21;
- Zuleyma Tang-Martinez and Arlene Zarembka - recently celebrated their 31st anniversary as a couple, and were married in 2005;
- James MacDonald and Andrew Schuerman - together for 12 years, married in 2005, and raising their two-year-old daughter;
- Elizabeth Drouant and Julikka LaChe - married in 2010, and together for 10 years;
- Ashley Quinn and Katherine Quinn - together for eight years and married in 2010;
- Adria Webb and Patricia Webb - married in 2010 and raising two children, aged 12 and 13; and
- Alan Ziegler and LeRoy Fitzwater - have been a couple since 2001, and were married in 2008. 2
Two additional couples joined as plaintiffs after the lawsuit was filed:
- John Parks and Joe Lopez from Kansas City
- Randall Short and Eric Goodman-Short from Kansas City,
2014-SEP-25: The hearing of Barrier v. Vasterling: Oral arguments were presented in Jackson County Circuit Court, on behalf of the plaintiffs by attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Circuit Judge J. Dale Youngs said that his intention is to render a decision:
"... as quickly as possible. This issue has been extremely well briefed and well argued. My job is to get everybody down the road. ... Nothing I say will be the last word" 3
His last comment reflected his expectation that the losing side in the lawsuit would probably appeal his decision. 3
Attorney Rothert commented:
"It was an honor to give our plaintiffs their day in court. We were able to highlight the many ways that discrimination against loving, committed couples ends up harming families."
"Missouri has traditionally recognized lawful marriages performed in other states. It is simply wrong to treat same-sex families differently. Thanks to the hard work of the ACLU and our many LGBT partners, we are nearing the day when discrimination against LGBT families will end. The ACLU's historic 2013 Supreme Court decision in the Edie Windsor case paved the way as state after state removed barriers to marriage. Today, Missouri took a giant step down that path."
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Barrier v. Vasterling (Marriage Recognition)," ACLU - Missouri, as on 2014-NOV-06, at: http://www.aclu-mo.org/
- Doug Moore, "Judge to rule 'as quickly as possible' in Missouri same-sex marriage case," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2014-SEP-26, at: http://www.stltoday.com/
- "LGBT rights in Missouri," Wikipedia, as on 2014-NOV-06, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
- Alan Scher Zaagier, "Judge overturns Missouri ban on gay marriage; Attorney General files appeal," Missourian, 2014-NOV-05, at: http://www.columbiamissourian.com/
- Lindsay Toler, "Same-Sex Marriage Is Legal in Missouri," Riverfront Times, 2014-NOV-05, at: http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/
- "US Marriage Laws," at: http://www.usmarriagelaws.com/
- Chris Koster, "Attorney General Koster's statement on his decision not to appeal in Barrier v. Vasterling," 201-OCT-06, at: http://ago.mo.gov/
- Lindsy Toler, "Four Gay Couples Just Got Married in St. Louis to Challenge Missouri's Ban," Riverfront Times, 2014-JUN-26, at: http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/
Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on
Originally posted: 2014-NOV-06
Last updated 2014-NOV-09
Author: Bruce A Robinson