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Missouri

ACLU files suit against Mo. for not recognizing same-sex marriages

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Missouri joined the growing list of states facing legal challenges to their gay marriage bans Wednesday, when the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit seeking to force it to recognize the out-of-state marriages of several same-sex couples.

MissouriTears flowed openly as eight Missouri same-sex couples from across the state participated in news conferences in Kansas City, Jefferson City, Springfield and St. Louis, to announce the litigation, filed in state court in Kansas City.

ACLU of Missouri Legal Director Anthony Rothert said state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage – approved by 71 percent of voters in 2004 – makes same-sex couples “legal strangers in their home state.”

“Because of the many benefits of marriage, Missouri has traditionally recognized lawful marriages performed in other states,” said Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri. “We know that the people of Missouri are fair-minded and did not intend to harm these eight families and others like them throughout Missouri. But our current laws do harm them.”

The plaintiff couples say the ban excludes them from most state and many federal protections available to legally married opposite-sex couples in Missouri.

The suit is being filed in state court because the ACLU said it views this as a state constitutional matter.

While not specifically calling for a repeal of the constitutional ban, Rothert said there is the possibility of a broader ruling striking down the marriage ban depending on the state’s defense.

Rothert said the ACLU has a “50-state strategy” to push for the legalization of same-sex marriage, but he declined to say if or when legal action will be taken seeking to force Missouri to do so.

“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 eight families and others like them throughout Missouri.”

“But our current laws do harm them,” said Mittman.

The plaintiff couples are:

  • Janice Barrier and Sheri Schild – married in 2009, and together for more than 30 years;
  • Lisa Layton-Brinker and JoDe Layton-Brinker – married in 2010, together for six years, their family includes three children, ages 17, 20, and 21;
  • Zuleyma Tang-Martinez and Arlene Zarembka – recently celebrated their thirty-first anniversary as a couple, and were married in 2008;
  • James MacDonald and Andrew Schuerman – together for twelve years, married in 2005, and raising their two-year-old daughter;
  • Elizabeth Drouant and Julikka LaChe – married in 2010, and together for ten years;
  • Ashley Quinn and Katherine Quinn – together for eight years and married in 2010;
  • Adria Webb and Patricia Webb – married in 2010 and are raising two children, aged 12 and 13; and
  • Alan Ziegler and LeRoy Fitzwater – have been a couple since 2001, and were married in 2008.

Missouri was the first state to enact a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage following the 2004 Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in that state.

In the decade since then, much has changed. Courts and the federal government have chipped away at laws prohibiting same-sex marriage. Seventeen states now allow it.

“As we approach a full decade since the passage of Missouri’s Constitutional Amendment on marriage, we know this has been a decade of hardship on gay and lesbian couples,” said A.J. Bockelman, Executive Director of PROMO, a statewide advocacy organization.

“The tide has turned, and we now see state after state taking a supportive position and extending the basic benefits of marriage to our couples. It is past time for Missouri to be on the right side of history and declare Missouri’s Amendment unconstitutional,” said Bockelman.

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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19 more reader comments:

  1. Ironic, considering it’s the “Show Me” state, which sounds quite gay, doesn’t it? ;)

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 4:33pm
  2. I’m surprised Missouri isn’t wiling to legalize same-sex marriage. Since moving here, I have been pleasantly surprised by how accepting of gays the people are. Maybe that’s what I see because I’m in a big city, and not out in some small town?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 4:38pm
  3. you in kc or the 'loo?

    Replied on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 9:09pm
  4. coz columbia is already practicamally d.c.

    Replied on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 9:09pm
  5. Let’s keep the suits coming :)……..one by one they’ll have to cave in, until the Supreme Court FINALLY decides to be on the right side of history!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 4:39pm
  6. Like dominoes, they’ll just keep falling. Onward, Equality!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 4:48pm
  7. Why does the Missouri sign say they welcome you when obviously they don’t!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 4:49pm
  8. Well I grew up in a very small town and its a lot different then the city.I remember bein the only one in the whole town lol I lost some a best friend when people found out in high school but I never did hide it.it’s funny how half of the school knew and was perfectly fine with it never was teased but other who were not gay got picked on for it never understood that.I had parents theatin me all the time never any peers.things were very different when I was in school I hope it a little easier for kids now to b who they r even though it was easy for me it was not for a friend to come out there.it did take a long time to figure out that I was never heard of gay before till I was older then it all made sense.I’m 32 and live in Florida bow and I have to say I fell free here.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:06pm
  9. wao, it’s amusing

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:11pm
  10. We are moving to Missouri on Saturday! :0

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:29pm
  11. I dated someone who lives in Springfield, MO. (I live in California) it made me really sad that he was too afraid to even hug me when I got off the plane when I arrived. He lives in constant fear of being “found out” and doesn’t have a lot of support. It makes me sad to think of living that way. I hope Missouri eventually makes same sex marriage legal, or at least recognize legal same sex marriages from other states, for his sake and other lgbt Missouri residents.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:38pm
  12. Good!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:02pm
  13. Show me equality!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:25pm
  14. That’s right go fuck yourself

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:35pm
  15. And fuck the rest of you who disagree

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:36pm
  16. Can the ACLU please come to KS and stop this bill PLEASE?!?!?!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 7:41pm
  17. You are right. That is a whopper of a bill. One for the record books.

    Replied on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 9:04pm
  18. merde! NOUS ALLONS LIBERER TOUTE LA NOUVELLE FRANCE CE SOIR
    bring it!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 9:08pm
  19. KCMO, Eric.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 9:51pm