#ShowMeMarriage: 1st Challenge to Mo.'s Gay Marriage Ban Argued

By William Peacock, Esq. on September 25, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Show Me State? More like Slow Me State, right?

The first of three challenges to Missouri's ban on same-sex marriages was argued in court today, with the judge promising a quick ruling. Today's case, in state court, challenged the state's refusal to recognize gay marriages from out of state, while a second state court case will challenge the ban on in-state marriages. A federal case is also pending.

As was the case in many other states' disputes, the ACLU argued equal protection, while the state argued for state sovereignty.

Just the Beginning

Circuit Judge J. Dale Youngs, after a 90-minute hearing, quipped that his "job is to get everybody down the road," reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Noting that his ruling will undoubtedly be appealed, he stated, "Nothing I say will be the last word."

True indeed, as this is one of three cases challenging Missouri's gay marriage amendment, passed in 2004 by a wide margin of the voters. The three cases include:

  • This Jackson County case, argued in Kansas City, challenging the state's refusal to recognize out-of-state marriages that were lawful where they were performed;
  • A St. Louis case challenging the state's ban on in-state marriages, which came after then-recorder of deeds Sharon Carpenter issued licenses to four couples, reports the Post-Dispatch; and
  • A federal case in Kansas City that was filed after two couples were denied marriage licenses.

And, of course, there's the likely possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court could take up gay marriage this term, deciding the issue once and for all. The Court is set to consider petitions for review from multiple states and couples on Tuesday.

Familiar Arguments

As one might expect, the ACLU, which represents the 10 plaintiff couples in the case, argued that the state's ban violated the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection.

The state, for its part, argued that last year's decision in Windsor did nothing to "change the sovereign authority of the state," reports the Post-Dispatch.

The Court, in Windsor, did leave the definition of marriage to the states. But it also spoke of respecting the dignity of same-sex couples, giving both sides of the argument something to work with.

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