KANSAS CITY, Mo. —A ruling can be expected no later than Tuesday in the case brought by the Missouri ACLU against the state charging that its refusal to recognize legal same-sex marriages from other states is unconstitutional. Sources close to the case said a ruling could even be issued before the weekend.
Circuit Judge James Dale Young presided and Assistant Attorney General Jeremiah Morgan argued on behalf of the state, while ACLU attorney Tony Rothert argued the suit filed on behalf of 10 same-sex couples. Rothert and the ACLU contend that the 2013 Supreme Court case, United States v Windsor, found that same-sex families could not be singled out for discrimination, and Missouri must recognize same-sex couples legally married in other states.
Morgan, arguing on behalf of the state, told the court that states had a clear right to define marriage and Missouri’s 2004 constitutional amendment — which passed by a clear margin — fell well within the state’s authority.
“Missouri has traditionally recognized lawful marriages performed in other states. It is simply wrong to treat same-sex families differently,” said Jeffrey A. Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri in a statement. “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 case is just one against Missouri over the state’s prohibition of same-sex marriages. St. Louis City officials, at the direction of Mayor Francis Slay, issued marriage licenses to 4 same-sex couples in an effort to trigger a legal test of Missouri’s constitutional amendment.
Since the Supreme Court’s Windsor ruling in 2013, more than a dozen states have seen their bans on same-sex marriages overturned by the courts, and nearly 20 more are currently being challenged. Every single state with a prohibition against same-sex marriages is now embroiled in a legal battle over the constitutionality of the ban. Missouri’s own Attorney General Chris Koster — the de-facto Democratic nominee for the governor’s mansion in 2016 — added his name to an amicus brief with 16 other Attorneys General asking the Supreme Court to issue a more clear ruling on same-sex marriage. Koster has publicly said his office will defend the state’s ban as part of his constitutional duties, but that he personally supports the cause of same-sex marriage.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.