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Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Missouri

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2004 to 2015:
The path to marriage equality in Missouri
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The acronym "LGBT" refers to the Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual and Transgender/Transsexual community.

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U.S. map with Missouri highlighted A brief summary of conflicts from 2004-AUG to the present time related to marriage equality:

  • 2004-AUG-03: Missouri voters approved an amendment that wrote discrimination into the Missouri Constitution. It was the fifth state in the U.S. to ban marriage by same-sex couples by an amendment. Eventually the number of states with constitutional bans rose to over 30. Some promoters were motivated by a desire to make it impossible for state courts to legalize marriage equality. As this section of the ReligiousTolerance.org web site illustrates, a constitutional amendment did not end up providing much protection against equality. Other promoters were motivated by a desire to bring more conservatives out on election day so that the Republican candidate for President would stand a better chance to win.

  • 2013-NOV-14: Governor Jay Nixon (D) signed an executive order giving same-sex couples who had been married out-of-state access to some tax breaks. This triggered a legal action by a group of conservative religious leaders to reverse the order. They were unsuccessful

  • 2014-FEB: The American Civil Liberties Association of Missouri filed a lawsuit -- Barrier v. Vasterling -- in state court with the goal of forcing Missouri to recognize legal same-sex marriages solemnized out-of-state.

  • 2014-JUN: St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay arranged four irregular marriages: He ordered Sharon Carpenter -- the recorder of deeds for St. Louis city at the time -- to issue marriage licenses to four same-sex couples. They later married in violation of the state's constitutional ban on such marriages. This triggered the filing of a lawsuit: State of Missouri v. Florida in the Missouri Circuit Court, 22nd Judicial Circuit for the City of St. Louis. "Florida" in this case does not refer to the state. It refers to Jennifer Florida who replaced Sharon Carpenter as recorder of deeds. The goal of this lawsuit was to have the court forcibly divorce the four couples against their will.

  • 2014-SEP: Hearings were held in Jackson County Circuit Court for the ACLU case: Barrier v. Vasterling.

  • 2014-OCT-03: Circuit Judge J. Dale Youngs of Jackson County issued his ruling in Barrier v. Vasterling. He determined that the State of Missouri must recognize marriages of same-sex couples that have been solemnized out-of-state.

  • 2014-OCT-06: Attorney General Chris Koster decided to not appeal this ruling! Judge Youngs' decision became final. Missouri now recognizes marriages solemnized in other states.

  • 2014-OCT-07: Federal District Court Judge Ortrie D. Smith issued ruling in Lawson v. Jackson legalizing same-sex marriage in Missouri. He stayed his ruling. The state has appealed the case to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • 2014-NOV-05: In the case State of Missouri v. Florida, state Circuit Court Judge Rex Burlison issued a ruling legalizing marriage for same-sex couples in Missouri. The ruling only affects marriage licenses issued in the City of St. Louis. Other county clerks in Missouri have decided to refuse to issue such licenses. Some couples throughout Missouri are traveling to St. Louis to obtain their licenses, which are valid throughout the state. This is a relatively minor inconvenience compared to having to live on a daily basis without access to marriage benefits and protections that number a few hundred from the Missouri government and 1,138 from the federal government.

Current status of same-sex marriage in Missouri: Loving, committed same-sex couples throughout Missouri can obtain marriage licenses in the city of St. Louis, the county of St. Louis, or Jackson County. They can use their licence to be married later anywhere in Missouri, and have their marriages recognized by the state. Alternately, they can travel to another state where same-sex marriages have been made legal, be married there, return to Missouri, and have their marriages recognized by the state. Thus, on 2014-NOV-05, we consider that Missouri became the 34th state in the United States to make marriage generally available to same-sex couples, although by a somewhat convoluted path. However, most same-sex marriage information sources do not include Missouri in their list of states that have legalized SSMs.

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

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Copyright 2014 & 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2014-NOV-09
Last updated 2015-FEB-28
Author: Bruce A Robinson
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