News (USA)

Missouri will not appeal ruling that it recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Same-sex marriage advocates said Monday they expect it’s just a matter of time before Missouri allows the unions, after the Supreme Court cleared the way for their expansion.

Attorney General Chris Koster (D-Mo.)
Attorney General Chris Koster (D-Mo.)

Just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court turned away appeals from five states seeking to prohibit gay marriages, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster signaled that the state is backing away from defending its own same-sex marriage ban.

A Jackson County judge had ordered the state last week to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states. Conservatives asked Koster to appeal, but he noted in a statement Monday that the high court’s action effectively makes gay marriage legal in 30 states. Missouri isn’t among them, but Koster said the state is obligated to honor contracts entered into in other states.

“Missouri’s future will be one of inclusion,” Koster added, “not exclusion.”

American Civil Liberties Union Attorney Tony Rothert said he also was hoping for expedited action in two pending same-sex marriage cases. One is a federal challenge in Kansas City, and the other is a St. Louis case that focuses on city officials who issued marriage licenses to four same-sex couples to trigger a legal test of the ban.

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Koster spokeswoman Nanci Gonder says the office isn’t commenting on the two pending cases.

Rothert said he expected Missouri to quickly join the ranks of states that allow same-sex marriage.

“There’s no reason why Missouri needs to be the last state to have marriage equality,” Rothert said. “It will be better for the state and the people in the state if it is sooner rather than later.”

Although the same-sex marriage ban remains in effect in Missouri, Friday’s ruling opens the door for same-sex couples who legally wed out of state to sign up for a wide range of benefits now afforded to opposite-sex married couples.

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