Saint Louis, Mo. — Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court announced they would not be hearing any same-sex marriage cases in the coming year, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced his office would not be appealing last week’s decision that Missouri must recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states.
“Our national government is founded upon principles of federalism – a system that empowers Missouri to set policy for itself, but also obligates us to honor contracts entered into in other states,” Koster said in a statement on the case, Barrier v. Vasterling, today.
Koster, a Democrat, was one of more than a dozen attorneys general across the U.S. that signed a legal brief asking for the Supreme Court to rule on one of several pending appeals in states where courts have knocked down laws or constitutional amendments prohibiting same sex marriage. The decision by the Court not to act effectively permitted same-sex marriages to legally begin taking place in 30 states.
“A consequence of this morning’s ruling by the United States Supreme Court is that gay marriage will soon be legal in as many as 30 states,” Koster said. “At a time when Missouri is competing to attract the nation’s premier businesses and most talented employees, we should not demand that certain individuals surrender their marriage licenses in order to live and work among us.”
Koster’s announcement signals yet another advancement for the LGBT community, and may indicate that his office will not vigorously battle legal representatives from St. Louis City after city officials issued same-sex marriage licenses in an effort to test the state’s ban in open court. Koster said at the time he personally supported same-sex marriages, but that he would uphold his constitutional duty to defend the state’s laws in court. Whether or not Koster will seek to appeal a ruling knocking down Missouri’s ban entirely is not yet known.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, whose legal representatives brought the Barrier case to court, released a statement applauding the decision.
“As the Attorney General has recognized, our constitution obligates Missouri to recognize marriages from other states, as our state has historically done. Now more than half of the states will not exclude gay men and lesbians from marriage,” said ACLU of Missouri’s legal director, Tony Rothert. “We look forward to the day that Missouri will join the majority soon. In the meantime, we are thrilled that Missouri will no longer single out gay men and lesbians for discrimination by refusing to recognize their marriages.”
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.