Same-sex marriage in Missouri
2014-OCT: Intense activity by courts:
Rulings of 2 Missouri cases issued in 5 days!
Barrier v. Vasterling in state Circuit Court.
Lawson v. Jackson, in U.S. District Court
for Western Missouri.
The acronym "LGBT" refers to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender/Transsexual community.
2014-OCT-03: 1st lawsuit ruling. (Barrier v. Vasterling, by Judge J. Dale Youngs in state court):
State Jackson County Circuit Judge J. Dale Youngs issued his ruling in Barrier v. Vasterling concerning out-of-state same-sex marriages by ten plaintiff couples.
According to Wikipedia:
"... Judge Youngs ruled that Missouri's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions violated the plaintiffs' right to Equal Protection under both the Missouri and federal constitutions. 1
He ordered the state to recognize out-of-state marriages. Since the plaintiffs won, the state was responsible for the plaintiffs' legal expenses.
Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, said:
"Missouri has finally recognized our couples’ marriages as being no different from any other marriage."
The lead plaintiff couple, Janice Barrier and Sherie Schild, said:
"Our hearts are filled with jubilation. We believe the judge made a fair and just decision recognizing marriage for same-sex couples."
Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri said:
"This is a personal win for our 10 courageous couples who stepped up to represent the LGBT community. Even better, this is a win for the whole state because a discriminatory law has been struck down."
On OCT-06, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster (D) announced the state would not appeal the state court decision. 1 He issued a news release, saying:
"The circuit court's judgment in Barrier v. Vasterling held that Missouri must recognize marriages lawfully entered into in other states. We will not appeal that judgment. Our national government is founded upon principles of federalism – a system that empowers Missouri to set policy for itself, but also obligates us to honor contracts entered into in other states.
A consequence of this morning's ruling by the United States Supreme Court is that gay marriage will soon be legal in as many as 30 states. At a time when Missouri is competing to attract the nation's premier businesses and most talented employees, we should not demand that certain individuals surrender their marriage licenses in order to live and work among us. 2
Missouri's future will be one of inclusion, not exclusion."
Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. said:
"As the Attorney General has recognized, our constitution obligates Missouri to recognize marriages from other states, as our state has historically done. Now more than half of the states will not exclude gay men and lesbians from marriage. We look forward to the day that Missouri will join the majority soon. In the meantime, we are thrilled that Missouri will no longer single out gay men and lesbians for discrimination by refusing to recognize their marriages." 3
Webmaster's comment (Bias alert):
Missouri recognize out out-of-state marriages by same-sex couples may seem to be only be a partial victory on the road towards full marriage equality in the state. After all, as of OCT-06, same-sex couples still could not legally marry in Missouri. However, this first step might be sufficient for now, among many same-sex couples:
- Those who are married out-of-state and were transferred to Missouri by their employer would have their marriages recognized in their new location.
- Those who lived in Missouri as an engaged couple who want to marry need only organize a "destination wedding" by going to another state, marrying there, and returning to Missouri where their marriage will be recognized. They could go to an adjoining state -- Iowa to the North, Illinois to the East, or Oklahoma to the West. I personally recommend going much farther west, to Hawaii. Folks in that state have an overwhelming supply of Aloha!
- Married couples who were traveling through Missouri would have peace of mind knowing that their marriages would be recognized in the event of a medical or other emergency.
2014-NOV-07: 2nd lawsuit ruling. (Lawson v. Jackson by Judge Ortrie D. Smith in federal District Court):
In another lawsuit, Federal District Court Judge Ortrie D. Smith issued a ruling that legalized marriage for same-sex couples in Missouri.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri had filed this lawsuit on 2014-JUN-24 in a Missouri U.S. District Court seeking marriage equality in Missouri. The two plaintiff same-sex couples are unmarried and want to be married in the state:
- Angela Curtis and Shannon McGinty of St. Louis have been together for 11 years, and engaged for a year.
- Kyle Lawson and Evan Dahlgren of Kansas City are also engaged and wish to be married in their state.
Using the same analysis that dozens of federal and state judges have in the recent past, Judge Smith determined that Missouri's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. He concluded that it violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Anticipating that his decision will be appealed. he stayed his ruling "... until the judgment is final." 7
Reactions to the ruling:
- District Attorney Christ Koster quickly announced that he would appeal the decision to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
- Jackson County officials in the west of Missouri started to issue marriage licenses on the afternoon of NOV-07.
- Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders issued a statement saying that:
"... licenses will be issued at both the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City and the Truman Courthouse in Independence.
Courts are ruling that marriage is a fundamental right of every citizen. Given that marriage is such an important right, sound public policy dictates that right be applied uniformly across the state.
Marriage affords couples important legal protections, ranging from family leave, the ability to care for or visit a sick spouse, the opportunity to secure inheritances, or file for joint insurance. I am pleased that our staff is working expeditiously to accommodate applicants." 10
- According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"St. Louis [City] Mayor Francis Slay said the Kansas City ruling has no bearing on Burlison’s order, and marriage licenses for all Missourians will continue to be offered at City Hall.
'There is no doubt that marriage equality is the law of the land in the state of Missouri,' said Slay. 'Judge Burlison’s ruling continues to apply throughout the state'." 7
- Plaintiff Shannon McGinty said:
"It was important to us to wait for full marriage equality where we could celebrate with all of our family and friends in the state where we live."
- Most recorders of deeds elsewhere in the state are not making marriage licenses available to same-sex couples. They are waiting until they receive more definitive legal guidance, or a ruling from the Missouri Supreme Court.
- Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. said:
"Every judge in Missouri is reaching the same conclusion. It’s apparent the writing is on the wall. Marriage exclusion is unconstitutional.
[Those who are not issuing marriage licenses] ... are on clear notice that if they continue to discriminate against same-sex couples, they could be sued and will lose. That’s a decision they are going to have to make. It can’t be disputed they can issue licenses if they want to. Nothing bad is going to happen to them if they comply." 7
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "LGBT rights in Missouri," Wikipedia, as on 2014-NOV-06, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
- Chris Koster, "Attorney General Koster's statement on his decision not to appeal in Barrier v. Vasterling," 2014-OCT-06, at: http://ago.mo.gov/
- "Barrier v. Vasterling (Marriage Recognition)," ACLU - Missouri, as updated on 2014-OCT-06, at: http://www.aclu-mo.org/
- Doug Moore, "Judge rules that gay marriage ban in Missouri is unconstitutional," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2014-OCT-06, at: http://www.stltoday.com/
- "US Marriage Laws," at: http://www.usmarriagelaws.com/
- Alan Scher Zaagier, "Judge overturns Missouri ban on gay marriage; Attorney General files appeal," Missourian, 2014-NOV-05, at: http://www.columbiamissourian.com/
- Doug Moore, "Another gay marriage victory in Missouri, as federal judge in Kansas City strikes down ban," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2014-OCT-07, at: http://www.stltoday.com/
- Lindsay Toler, "Same-Sex Marriage Is Legal in Missouri," Riverfront Times, 2014-NOV-05, at: http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/
- "Full marriage equality comes to Missouri," ACLU of Missouri, 2014-NOV-07, at: http://www.aclu-mo.org/
- "Same-sex marriage licenses to be issued in Jackson County," Office of Public Information, Jackson County, Missouri, 2014-NOV-07, at: http://www.jacksongov.org/
Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on
Originally posted: 2014-NOV-06
Last updated 2014-NOV-09
Author: Bruce A Robinson