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Missouri is latest state to face court challenge over its same-sex marriage ban

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The ACLU has announced that it intends to file a lawsuit in state court in Missouri, challenging the way the state treats same-sex marriages. A report by the Associated Press says that a spokesperson for the ACLU of Missouri “refused to discuss specific details” of the case, and it’s unclear which part of Missouri’s anti-gay marriage scheme is being challenged. The state has a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The (Springfield, Mo.) News-Leader has a few more details:

Stephanie Perkins, deputy director for PROMO, a Missouri gay and lesbian advocacy group, said the litigation seeks to overturn Missouri’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Couples from Kansas City, St. Louis, mid-Missouri and Springfield are included in the suit, which will be filed in state court in Kansas City.

Charles Abernathy, spokesman for the GLO Center in Springfield, said a news conference involving the ACLU litigation has been scheduled at the GLO Center for Wednesday.

Abernathy said that while GLO will be the venue, PROMO is taking the lead on the event.

A more detailed announcement is expected today. There are currently over 40 lawsuits challenging state same-sex marriage bans and non-recognition of marriages. Arguments in two cases on appeal in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals from Utah and Oklahoma will be heard in April, while the Ninth Circuit has been asked for a quick hearing in Sevcik v. Sandoval, Lambda Legal’s challenge to Nevada’s ban. A district court judge in Virginia is expected to rule in a challenge to that state’s ban, argued recently by Ted Olson and David Boies.

UPDATE: A press release from a Missouri LGBT organization involved in the case has more details:

Today the ACLU of Missouri filed litigation in State Court in Kansas City, on behalf of same-sex couples throughout the state to seek recognition by Missouri of their marriages. In 2004, Constitutional Amendment 2, prohibiting same-sex marriages in Missouri, was voted on by the public and passed.

Eight Missouri couples from across the state have filed suit challenging the constitutionality of Constitutional Amendment 2. The couples are excluded from most state and many federal protections available to legally married couples in Missouri.

“Through recognition of marriage, Missouri supports a couple’s decision to establish a family, support one another and any children of the marriage. Because of the many benefits of marriage, Missouri has traditionally recognized lawful marriages performed in other states,” said Jeffrey Mittman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Missouri. “We know that the people of Missouri are fair-minded and did not intend to harm these families, their children, and the other families like them throughout Missouri. But our current laws DO harm them.”


  • 1. KarlS  |  February 12, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Great! The more the better…helps force the bigots to keep playing Whack-a-mole! (for lack of a better analogy, haha)

  • 2. JimT  |  February 12, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    There’s also another Missouri marriage equality lawsuit challenging Governor Jay Nixon’s “executive order last year allowing legally married same-sex couples to file joint tax returns in Missouri” filed last month, January 9, 2014 by “four Missourians with ties to religious or family-values groups.”

  • 3. Mike in Baltimore  |  February 12, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    If the appeal of any decision on this tax case reaches SCOTUS, it will be interesting to see how the plaintiffs in this particular case try to establish legal standing to appeal the case. (That's presuming SCOTUS will not have ruled already on how 'out of state' ME affects the individual states, and/or if it doesn't, which of several grounds SCOTUS chooses to deny cert [if it even states why cert is not granted].)

  • 4. bythesea  |  February 12, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    I don't think they will have standing at SCOTUS. At all.

  • 5. Mike in Baltimore  |  February 12, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    I don't think they have standing (or ever will have) either, but what I stated is ". . . it will be interesting to see how the plaintiffs in this particular case try to establish legal standing to appeal the case."

    'Trying' to establish standing is NOT the same as establishing, or having, standing.

  • 6. Bill Naquin  |  February 12, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Nice article on Missouri, but no mention of the federal suit we filed here in Louisiana today.

  • 7. JimT  |  February 12, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Meanwhile in Kansas today, lawmakers have advanced their “religious liberty” bill that would allow people to deny same-sex couples services and benefits.

  • 8. bayareajohn  |  February 12, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    The legal proofs under such a vague law will be horrible:
    1. Did the act happen
    2. Is the act discriminatory
    3. Is the act covered under the statute's exceptions
    4. Was the act done due to religious beliefs
    5. Did the actor hold those beliefs sincerely (how sincerely is enough, and how measured?)

    Every element needs to be proven, and judged by a jury? Insane.

  • 9. Lymis  |  February 13, 2014 at 7:38 am

    And, in addition, where do you slice the situation when someone says that they base their sincerely held religious beliefs on some source, but then clearly don't follow all of the tenets – for example, someone who discriminates against gay people, but not against divorced people or known adulterers, when their religion disapproves of all of them?

    Can a case be ruled against someone because they aren't consistent in their religious disapproval?

  • 10. StraightDave  |  February 13, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Am I just being way too paranoid here?

    HB 2453 is titled "An act concerning religious freedoms with respect to marriage" and covers many bases.

    It reads, in part: "No individual or religious entity shall be required by any governmental entity to do any of the following, if it would be contrary to the sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity regarding sex or gender:

    "Provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits, related to, or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement."

  • 11. StraightDave  |  February 13, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    (part 2)

    Not trying to be nitpicky or anything, but either this is very sloppy drafting of the bill, flunking writing class, or a sleazy way to make this law an even bigger abomination that it already is. If you take each of the ";" separated clauses, starting with "provide", as being a distinct restriction on is own, this reads like you could use your attitudes about sex and gender to refuse just about anything to anybody. Only the 3rd clause covers marriage, which does not appear to be connected to either of the first 2 clauses. Reading the words as written, I could refuse to sell a book to a woman because she walked into my store without a headscarf and unaccompanied by a family male.

    If it wasn't Kansas, I would say they were just being sloppy. But as an expression of a formal law, this looks ripe for all kinds of mischief.

  • 12. Eric  |  February 13, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Given that the exemption is ONLY for the religious, I don't see how this isn't a violation of the establishment clause.

  • 13. sfbob  |  February 13, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    I don't disagree with you on that one. It's a lawsuit waiting to happen. I guess the state's treasury is so awash with money that they're willing to take on all the court challenges that will certainly arise if the bill is passed and signed.

  • 14. StraightDave  |  February 13, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Well, Kansas probably has a lot of $ leftover by outsourcing their SSM lawsuits to OK

  • 15. seannynj  |  February 12, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    I haven't seen anything here yet about the Texas court case yesterday so I search around the internet for some details. This is the only article that I could find that discusses what happened at the trial:

    The judge seemed pretty sympathetic to the our side by pointing out the various times in the past federal courts intervened in state matters to resolve civil rights violations. My favorite part of the article (outside the fact that the newspaper cannot even spell the name of the state they are in properly):

    "Neel Lane, an attorney for the two couples, dismissed the state’s argument that their rights were not violated because they are free to marry members of the opposite sex. He said that’s like holding someone’s head underwater and saying the person is free to breathe, just not air."

    LOL. Great comeback. I wish that I had thought of it first. :-).

  • 16. seannynj  |  February 12, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    The judge is a Clinton appointee. That explains the judge's comments in our favor.

  • 17. JimT  |  February 13, 2014 at 8:07 am

    “In his comments from the bench, Texas Judge Garcia mentioned key civil rights laws passed after the end of the Civil War and pointed out that racial segregation and bans on interracial marriage were part of American tradition until federal judges declared them unconstitutional.”

    Similar points were made by the Kentucky judge in his ruling as well. And he was a Bush (Sr.) appointee.

    I t

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