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Same-sex marriage in Missouri

Part 4:
2014-NOV: 3rd court ruling in a month:
It is "Missouri v. Florida" in state Circuit Court.
2014-DEC: Federal Lawson v. Kelly case
appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
2015-JAN: 8th Circuit expedites appeal.

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The acronym "LGBT" refers to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender/Transsexual community.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay.

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wedding rings2014-NOV-05: 3rd lawsuit ruling. (Judge Rex Burlison in state Circuit Court):

A lawsuit, State of Missouri v. Florida was heard by Judge Rex Burlison at the Missiour Circuit Court, 22nd Judicial Circuit for the City of St. Louis. Defendant Jennifer Florida was, at the time of the ruling, the Recorder of Deeds and Vital Records Registrar of the City of St Louis. She had replaced Sharon Carpenter who was responsible for issuing marriage licenses to four same-sex couples on 2014-JUN-25.

Judge Rex Burlison ruled that Missouri's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.  He found, as have dozens of other state and federal courts since mid-2013, that banning marriages of same-sex couples violates both the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Those clauses require the federal, state and local governments to treat individuals -- and by extension -- couples equally. Thus, if a state allows opposite-sex couples to marry, then it must also allow same-sex couples to do the same.

Judge Burlison wrote in his ruling:

"The Court finds and declares that any same-sex couple that satisfies all the requirements for marriage under Missouri law, other than being of different sexes, is legally entitled to a marriage license." 1

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Kelley Harris, 35, and Kelly Barnard, 36, quickly obtained a marriage license at St. Louis City Hall. Harris said:

"We've already been living as a married couple — we have children, we have family — so it would be nice to have the legal backing."

By 5 p.m., the city had issued marriage licenses to four lesbian couples. A fifth couple, April Breeden and Crystal Peairs, obtained a license later that day and were almost immediately married in the City Hall rotunda. Not knowing whether a stay of the court ruling was imminent, Peairs said:

"Time is of the essence. We wanted to make sure we got it taken care of today."

The treatment of same-sex couples in Missouri became confusing. The court ruling in Barrier v. Vasterling -- two days earlier -- determined that couples can marry out-of-state and have their marriages recognized in part of Missouri, but not necessarily elsewhere in the state. With St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison's decision, same-sex couples can marry in the City of St. Louis, and in the County of St. Louis, but not necessarily elsewhere in the state.

Fortunately, according to, applicants for a marriage license do not have to be a resident of Missouri. In addition:

"Both parties must appear together before the Recorder of Deeds of any Missouri county and apply for a marriage license. Once you have obtained your Missouri Marriage License, you can be married in any county in Missouri in the next 30 days. After 30 days, the license expires and you have to repeat the entire process again to get another one. Beware, at least one county in Missouri has their marriage licenses expire in only 15 days." 2

This would seem to imply that any same-sex couple could travel to St. Louis, obtain a marriage license, be married in St. Louis, and have their marriage recognized both throughout Missouri, and in other states that permit same-sex marriage. But, don't take our word for this. If you are planning to do this, please check in advance with other sources to confirm this information.

As expected, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster immediately issued an appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court. He said that the challenge to the constitutional ban "must be presented to and resolved" at that level.

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2014-DEC-04: State of Missouri appeals federal District Court ruling to the 8th Circuit:

In the second of three cases, Lawson v. Kelly, federal District Court Judge Ortrie D. Smith had issued a ruling on 2014-NOV-07. It legalized same-sex marriage throughout MIssouri. He placed a stay on his ruling pending an appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Thus, no marriages could be solemnized under his order.

Missouri Deputy Solicitor General Jeremiah H. Morgan filed a one-sentence notice of appeal with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on DEC-04. 3

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2015-JAN-27: 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals expedites "Lawson," the second same-sex marriage case:

Some commentators expected that the 8th Circuit Court would delay their consideration of the Lawson v. Kelly case, because, earlier in January, the U.S. Supreme Court had granted certiorari to a consolidated case involving four state: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The high court has scheduled hearings in late April, and is expected to issue its ruling in late June or early July. A growing number of commentators expect that the high court will legalize same-sex marriages across the entire U.S., making any ruling by the 8th Circuit Court redundant.

Instead, the 8th Circuit:

  • Denied a motion by the plaintiffs to terminate the District Court's stay and allow same-sex couples to marry freely throughout Missouri, and

  • Denied the State of Missouri's motion requesting the 9th Circuit Court to stay the appeal, and

  • Granted a motion by the plaintiffs to expedite the appeal. 4

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Further developments are inevitable.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Doug Moore, "Judge rules that gay marriage ban in Missouri is unconstitutional," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2014-OCT-06, at:
  2. "US Marriage Laws," at:
  3. Kyler Geoffroy, "Missouri Appeals Ruling Striking Down Gay Marriage Ban to 8th Circuit," Towleroad, 2014-DEC-06, at:
  4. Sean Mandell, "8th Circuit Court of Appeals Expedites Missouri Same-Sex Marriage Case, Won't Lift Stay of Federal Judge's Ruling," Towleroad, 2015-JAN-22, at:

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Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Menu > Missouri > here

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Copyright © 2014 & 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2014-NOV-06
Last updated 2015-FEB-18
Author: Bruce A Robinson
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