St. Louis judge knocks down state same-sex marriage ban

  

Saint Louis, Mo. — While Republicans saw overwhelming electoral victories across the nation last night, Missouri Democrats had at least one bright moment today. Circuit Judge Rex Burlison ruled earlier that Missouri’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional, and officials in the city of St. Louis said they were immediately prepared to begin handing out licenses to gay couples.

Several months ago, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay — an outspoken advocate for LGBT issues — announced that the city was issuing a small number of marriage licenses to gay couples in an effort to trigger a legal battle to test the state’s ban in open court. The ACLU of Missouri and PROMO, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization, both strongly supported the effort. St. Louis City Attorney, Winston Calvert, argued on behalf of the four same-sex couples.

“This is a positive move forward for loving same-sex couples in the City of St. Louis,” said Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri. “It is also a win for families throughout Missouri as another discriminatory obstacle is lowered.”

The ruling is another positive step for LGBT advocates, who had victory only weeks ago in another Missouri courtroom when a judge ordered Missouri to begin recognizing same-sex marriages legally performed in other states. Following that ruling, Attorney General Chris Koster announced he would no longer defend the state’s ban on gay marriage in court. While an appeal of today’s decision is likely, it won’t be generated by the state AG’s office.

Same-sex marriage has been prohibited in Missouri since 2004, when 71 percent of the state approved Constitutional Amendment 2.