Missouri's Gay Marriage Ban Was Just Struck Down, Two Days After Kansas'
On Wednesday, only two days after Kansas took a similar leap towards inclusion and equality, Missouri's gay marriage ban was struck down by a St. Louis Circuit judge. Even better? Unlike in other states where same-sex marriage bans have been found to be unconstitutional, the ruling has not been stayed, meaning that gay couples can start getting married right away.
St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison wrote that the ban was "unconstitutional in violation of the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution," adding that:
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.
He also pointed out that “fundamental rights are not dependent on the person seeking to exercise the right ” (duh), and rejected the argument that a standardized definition of marriage needed protection, saying:
A uniform definition of marriage could be drafted in a way that does not disadvantage people on the basis of sexual orientation and assuring equal protection for same-sex couples does not diminish the liberty and rights of others.
Attorney General Chris Koster — a Democrat, who, confusingly, supports marriage equality in spite of fighting against it in court — said in a statement that the ruling would be taken to the state Supreme Court. In the meantime, though, he won't ask for a stay, meaning Burlison's decision can take effect immediately.
In spite of this, there's some confusion as to how far-reaching Burlison's ruling is: though many have interpreted his judgment to be applicable statewide, The Kansas City Star reports that Jackson County officials claim Burlison's ruling "is limited to St. Louis city," and many other Missouri communities are waiting on clearer guidelines before issuing marriage licenses.
The ruling comes only two days after Federal District Court judge Daniel Crabtree ruled that Kansas' same-sex marriage ban was also unconstitutional, raising the total number of states not on the wrong side of history to 33. Crabtree issued a preliminary injunction with his ruling, though, meaning that couples in Kansas will only be getting their marriage licenses next week, on November 11 — lucky Missourians will have had days of ceremonies by then (hey, maybe Gov. Jay Nixon can take some crackin' pictures, too!).
It's a pretty big win for the state, which, thanks to Ferguson, has become synonymous with racially charged police brutality. As Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
This is a positive move forward for loving same-sex couples in the city of St. Louis. It is also a win for families throughout Missouri as another discriminatory obstacle is lowered.
Images: Getty Images (3)