#ShowMeMarriage: Court Strikes SSM Ban; Mo. Reluctantly Appeals

By William Peacock, Esq. on November 06, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Like dominos.

Last month, a state court in Kansas City held that the state of Missouri had to recognize out-of-state gay marriages. Earlier this week, a state court in St. Louis held that the state couldn't ban in-state gay marriages. The state declined to appeal the former case, but will appeal the latter case to the Missouri Supreme Court in order to get a statewide ruling.

Meantime, a federal case is pending in Jefferson City and the Eighth Circuit is one of the few that haven't addressed same-sex marriage since Windsor. Same-sex marriage definitely seems like a "when" rather than an "if" in this great state, but the legal path in Missouri certainly is interesting.

Latest Ruling: Equal Protection Means Marriage Equality

Legally, there's not a whole lot of new ground here. St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison's opinion says what countless other courts have said over the last year or so: Laws defining marriage as only between a man and woman violate the due process and equal protection rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Interestingly, Judge Burlison didn't stay his opinion, nor will Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster seek a stay pending appeal. Missouri is going to allow gay marriages while it appeals to stop gay marriages. But there may be a bit of logic to that irony.

Appeal to Missouri Supreme Court? Statewide Ruling

Same-sex marriage advocates said that Burlison's ruling applied statewide, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. But the president of the Recorders' Association of Missouri said the group was advising county officials Wednesday that the ruling applies only to that city and not the rest of the state, reports The Associated Press.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has previously expressed support for marriage equality, but said that he had a duty to defend the state's law in the courts. Nonetheless, he declined to appeal the earlier ruling, requiring the state to recognize out-of-state marriages, saying that the state should honor contracts entered into in other states.

This ruling? He's appealing to the state supreme court. Why? Our best guess is that he wants to make sure that whatever that court decides, the decision applies statewide.

About That Federal Case

Crickets. The last we heard, the case was transferred to federal court. Since then, we've heard nothing -- nothing on arguments, opinions, or whatever else. It would be interesting to see what the Missouri Supreme Court would do if the federal court jumped in. Over in Kansas, their court just postponed oral arguments because of a parallel federal district court ruling against their ban.

Oh, and while I was writing this, the Sixth Circuit upheld four states' bans on gay marriage, likely setting up a U.S. Supreme Court showdown. #SCOTUSbabySCOTUS. A SCOTUS ruling, of course, would likely make this entire line of cases and appeals moot.

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