Saturday, November 15, 2014

182.1 - Good News: Missouri ban on same-sex marriage found unconstitutional in both state and federal court

Good News: Missouri ban on same-sex marriage found unconstitutional in both state and federal court

Starting, as we always try to do, with some Good New, we have still more on marriage justice. On November 5, Judge Rex Burlison of the St. Louis Circuit Court of Missouri - a state court - declared Missouri's ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional.

“The Court finds and declares," Burlison wrote, "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.”

The city of St. Louis and the country of St. Louis immediately began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Advocates say the ruling applies statewide.

State Attorney General Chris Koster appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court but did not asked for a stay - which is a bit unusual but  perhaps not too surprising in this case since Koster had earlier signaled that his office was backing off defending the ban: Last month, when a Kansas City judge ruled that the marriages of same-sex couples wed in states where that is legal must be recognized by Missouri, Koster declined to appeal. So the appeal here may be pro forma.

Which may be especially true because two days later, on November 7, a federal district judge, Ortrie Smith, also found that the state's ban violated guarantees under the US Constitution of due process and equal protection. This is the first federal decision on same-sex marriage in the 8th Circuit. Four other states in that circuit - Arkansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas - have bans same-sex marriage, while it is legal in Iowa and Minnesota.

And to round things out, on that same day, November 7, the 10th Circuit court refused to hear an appeal from Kansas against a district court ruling saying that Kansas could not enforce its ban on same-sex marriage. That decision was expected, since the 10th Circuit had already struck down essentially identical provisions in other states, but still it was welcome because it means that Kansas can no longer stall and delay on granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

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