COLUMBIA, Mo. — A Boone County, Mo., judge has granted what is believed to be the first same-sex divorce in Missouri, which has a constitutional amendment against recognizing same-sex marriages.
Boone County Circuit Judge Leslie Schneider granted a divorce last month for Dena and Samantha Latimer, who were married in Massachusetts in 2009 and lived in Columbia.
The Columbia Daily Tribune reports Schneider ruled that a Missouri court can recognize the law of the state where the marriage was performed “for the limited purpose of granting equitable relief.”
Schneider said that by denying same-sex couples the ability to void or dissolve their marriages, the state “runs afoul of its due process obligations” under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Christopher Clark, a staff attorney for Lambda Legal‘s Chicago office, confirmed that the divorce is the first in Missouri that the organization is aware of, but said courts in other states that do not recognize same-sex marriages have granted divorces for same-sex couples using the same basic reasoning that Schneider used in the Latimers’ divorce.