World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Same-sex marriage in Missouri

Legal status of same-sex unions
  1. When performed in Mexican states that have legalized same-sex marriage
  2. When performed in the Netherlands proper

* Not yet in effect

LGBT portal

Same-sex marriage in Missouri is legal under the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which struck down state bans on marriages between two people of the same sex on June 26, 2015. Prior to the court ruling, the state recognized same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions pursuant to a state court ruling in October 2014, and certain jurisdictions of the state performed same-sex marriage despite a statewide ban.[1] It is important to note, that both county judges in Laclede County are refusing to conduct weddings in protest to the Supreme Court ruling. Governor Nix supports their decision. [2]

On November 5, 2014, a state court ruling striking down Missouri's same-sex marriage ban ordered the City of St. Louis to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In response to this ruling, St. Louis County also began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. On November 7, 2014, a federal court ruling striking down Missouri's same-sex marriage ban stayed its order directing Jackson County to issue licenses to same-sex couples. Despite the stay, Jackson County began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately following the ruling.

Assessing the state of same-sex marriage litigation in December 2014, Marc Solomon of Freedom to Marry said: "Missouri is the most complex state on this issue."[3]


  • Restrictions 1
  • Recognition of same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions 2
    • Barrier v. Vasterling 2.1
  • Marriage rights lawsuits 3
    • Legalizing same-sex marriage 3.1
      • Lawson v. Kelly 3.1.1
      • U.S. Supreme Court decision 3.1.2
    • Other lawsuits 3.2
      • State of Missouri v. Florida 3.2.1
      • In re Marriage of M.S. and D.S. 3.2.2
  • Public opinion 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


In August 2004, 71% of Missouri voters ratified Amendment 2, which restricted the validity and recognition of marriage in Missouri to the union of one man and one woman.[4][5]

Recognition of same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions

Missouri recognizes same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.

On November 14, 2013, Governor Jay Nixon issued an Executive order allowing same-sex couples married in other jurisdictions to file a combined Missouri income tax return if they file their federal return jointly.[6][7] Four conservatives, three associated with the Missouri Baptist Convention and one a former St. Charles County Executive now tied to Focus on the Family, filed Messer v. Nixon in Cole County Circuit Court on January 8, 2014, seeking to prevent the practice.[8]

Barrier v. Vasterling

The ACLU filed a lawsuit, Barrier v. Vasterling, challenging the state's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions in state circuit court on February 11, 2014,[9] on behalf of eight same-sex couples,[10] later joined by two more. Oral arguments were held on September 25, before Judge J. Dale Youngs in Jackson County Circuit Court in Kansas City.[11] On October 3, Judge Youngs ruled that Missouri's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions violated the plaintiffs' right to equal protection under both the state and federal constitutions.[12] He ordered the state to recognize such marriages and held the state responsible for the plaintiffs' legal expenses.[13] On October 6, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced the state would not appeal the decision.[14]

Members of the Missouri legislature sought to intervene in the suit and appeal the decision,[15] but the court rejected their petition as filed too late for the court to act.[16]

Marriage rights lawsuits

Same-sex marriage in Missouri prior to Obergefell v. Hodges
  Same-sex marriage legal
  County issuing same-sex marriage licenses on own initiative without specific legalization*
  Same-sex marriage ban overturned, stayed pending appeal; same-sex marriage recognized when performed elsewhere

* These counties also qualify for the gray color

Legalizing same-sex marriage

Lawson v. Kelly

In June 2014, Jackson County denied marriage licenses to two same-sex couples, which provided, according to Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders, a better vehicle for a lawsuit than the St. Louis case.[17] On June 24, the ACLU filed Lawson v. Kelly in Jackson County circuit court on behalf of two same-sex couples who had been denied marriage licenses there.[18] Jackson County officials said it was up to the state attorney general to defend the state's position.[17] Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster intervened and had the case moved to federal district court.[19] U.S. District Court Judge Ortrie D. Smith ruled for the plaintiffs on November 7, finding that Missouri's ban denied the plaintiffs their fundamental right to marry and discriminated against them on the basis of gender, but not on the basis of sexual orientation. He ordered only Jackson County to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and stayed his order pending conclusion of any appeal. Despite the stay, Jackson County began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately following the decision.[20][21] On November 21, the plaintiffs asked Judge Smith to lift his stay given that St. Louis had been ordered to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in State of Missouri v. Florida and noting that the state took no position on the request.[22] He refused on November 25, noting that licenses might be issued "that could later be determined to have been issued in error" if his decision was reversed.[23]

Attorney General Koster filed notice of appeal in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on December 5.[24] On December 8, the same-sex couples also filed notice of appeal to contest the district court's rejection of their claim of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.[25]

On December 10, the couples asked the Eighth Circuit to vacate the district court's stay or hear their appeal on an expedited basis.[26] On December 20, the couples asked the Eighth Circuit to consider their request to vacate the stay in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal the previous day to grant a stay in a Florida case, Armstrong v. Brenner.[27] The state replied to the couples' motion on December 24, calling the request for expedited consideration premature given the likelihood that in January the U.S. Supreme Court will agree to hear a same-sex marriage case. The state's brief did not mention the district court's stay.[28] On January 9, 2015, the couples asked the Eighth Circuit for a "prompt ruling" on their request, noting that the state had offered no argument against lifting the stay and that the Supreme Court had not accept a petition for certiorari in a same-sex marriage case that day. They wrote: "there is no equitable reason to hold the current case in perpetual limbo".[29] On January 21, the state asked the court to suspend proceedings pending action by the U.S. Supreme Court in similar same-sex marriage cases.[30] The couples supported that request only if the court lifted the stay.[31]

On January 22, the court refused both to lift the stay and to suspend proceedings. It agreed to expedite the case.[32] On February 9, the plaintiff couples again asked the Eighth Circuit to lift the stay, citing the Supreme Court's refusal to grant a stay that day in Searcy v. Strange (Alabama).[33]

U.S. Supreme Court decision

On June 26, 2015, following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the plaintiffs asked the Eighth Circuit to lift its stay[34] and the state asked the court to dismiss its appeal of the district court decision.[35]

As a result, same-sex couples began immediately marrying throughout Missouri.[36] On July 7, 2015, Governor Nixon issued Executive Order 15-04, ordering all departments and agencies of Missouri to immediately take all necessary measures to ensure compliance with the Obergefell decision.[37]

Other lawsuits

State of Missouri v. Florida

In June 2014, St. Louis officials licensed four same-sex marriages in order to provide the basis for a lawsuit when the state ordered them to stop the practice.[38] St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison held a hearing in the suit, originally State of Missouri v. Carpenter, on September 29 in state circuit court.[39] He ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on November 5, ruling that Missouri's refusal to license same-sex marriages violates the Missouri and federal constitutions.[40] Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced plans to appeal the ruling to the Missouri Supreme Court, but not to seek a stay of the ruling's implementation because "[f]ollowing decisions in Idaho and Alaska, the United States Supreme Court has refused to grant stays on identical facts."[41] Attorney General Koster and the Recorders' Association of Missouri said Judge Burlison's order only applied to the city of St. Louis,[42] where the city's marriage license department began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.[43] St. Louis County, where an official said "We believe it's a county-by-county decision",[42] began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples the next day.[44][20]

In re Marriage of M.S. and D.S.

After a trial court in St Louis County denied him a divorce, a man married in Iowa to a man now incarcerated in a Missouri prison appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court on March 13, 2014, which heard oral argument on December 3. In February 2014, a Boone County judge granted a divorce to two women who wed in Massachusetts in 2009.[45]

Public opinion

Public opinion for same-sex marriage in Missouri
Poll source Date(s)
Margin of
% support % opposition % no opinion
New York Times/CBS News/YouGov September 20-October 1, 2014 1,226 likely voters ± 3.6% 41% 47% 13%
Public Policy Polling May 24–27, 2012 602 voters ± 4% 36% 52% 12%
Public Policy Polling September 9–12, 2011 632 voters ± 3.9% 32% 59% 9%

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^ a b
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^

External links

  • , U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, November 7, 2014Lawson v. Kelly
  • , Missouri Circuit Court 22nd Judicial Circuit, November 5, 2014State of Missouri v. Florida
  • , Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri, October 3, 2014Barrier v. Vasterling
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Fair are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.