Same-sex couple takes divorce case to Missouri Supreme Court

Missouri Supreme Court in Jefferson City, Mo.

Missouri Supreme Court in Jefferson City, Mo.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — An attorney for a man seeking a divorce from his husband argued Wednesday before the Missouri Supreme Court that the state should dissolve the union, even though the state constitution doesn’t allow same-sex partners to wed.

Missouri Supreme Court in Jefferson City, Mo.

Missouri Supreme Court in Jefferson City, Mo.

The case involving the couple who married two years ago in Iowa, one of several dozen states that allow same-sex unions, highlights yet another uncertainty facing same-sex couples in Missouri, where marriage laws vary by county.

The case is not expected to address whether same-sex marriage should be legal throughout the state, and several cases addressing the issue are winding their way through the courts. Same-sex marriages have been performed recently in counties surrounding St. Louis and Kansas City. And nationally, there have been contradictory rulings at the federal court level.

The U.S. Supreme Court could take up the topic next year, but in the meantime, lawyer Drey Cooley said the couple feels “like they’re stuck.”

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His client, identified in court documents only as M.S., “just wants the same rights that anyone else would want to be in that situation – to get dissolved and move on.”

If the state’s high court rules against the request, any same-sex marriages ended in Missouri could be revalidated, Cooley said. It wasn’t clear, however, how many such cases that could affect.

Cooley said the state Supreme Court judges could avoid ruling broadly on Missouri’s gay marriage ban but still order same-sex unions to be treated like other out-of-state marriages for the purpose of divorces.

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