Judge Rules Missouri's Ban On Same-Sex Marriage Is Unconstitutional; Couples Step Up In St. Louis
(Will be updated.)
A judge in St. Louis has ruled that Missouri's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Already several same-sex couples have made their way to City Hall to get their marriage licenses.
"The court recognizes that the freedom to marry is a fundamental right and liberty deeply rooted in the history of the United States,"St. Louis Circuit Judge RexBurlison said in his ruling Wednesday. He heard arguments in the case on Sept. 29.
The case came about after the city of St. Louis issued marriage licenses in June to four same-sex couples, defying the state's 2004 constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. Assistant Attorney General Jeremiah Morgan argued that 71 percent ofMissouriansvoted for the referendum defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
"[Missouri] contends that it has a compelling state interest in providing uniformity and stability by providing a standardized definition of marriage," Burlison wrote. "[Missouri] is without controlling precedent to support this argument, relying on mere speculation of harm that does not constitute a compelling state interest."
"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," Burlison wrote.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, which handled the lawsuit for the same-sex couples, praised Wednesday's ruling.
"With our marriage recognition case win last month, and today’s win for the city of St. Louis to issue marriage licenses, Missouri is finally joining the mainstream by allowing loving couples to formalize their commitment with marriage,” said Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri.
Attorney General Chris Koster said that he has appealed the ruling to the Missouri Supreme Court.
"The constitutional challenge to Missouri's historically recognized right to define marriage must be presented to and resolved by the state's highest court," Koster said in a statement. But he also added that his office would not seek a stay of the court's order while the Missouri Supreme Court weighs the case:
Maggie Crane, a spokesperson for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay also said that marriage licenses would also be issued to same-sex couples by St. Louis County:
Here are some of the early reactions to the news on Twitter:
Cole County Recorder of Deeds staff looked at me funny when I asked about same-sex marriage. Turns out I broke the ruling news to them.— Claire Boston (@claireeboston) November 5, 2014
I'm a straight guy. A white guy. A guy with strong opinions. But that doesn't mean I have to be a bigot.— Sean Jordan (@seanjjordan) November 5, 2014
Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter: @csmcdaniel
Copyright 2014 St. Louis Public Radio