A Kansas City judge ruled Friday that the state of Missouri had to recognize marriages of same-sex couples that were legally married in other states.
The decision came eight days after hearing arguments in a case involving 10 same-sex couples, including five from St. Louis, who had valid marriage licenses from other states. Jackson County Circuit Court Judge J. Dale Youngs determined that not recognizing same-sex marriages that are legally performed in other states is a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment guaranteeing equal protection under the law.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of the 10 couples. In a press release, Jeffrey A. Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri said, “This is a personal win for our 10 courageous couples who stepped up to represent the LGBT community. Even better — this is a win for the whole state because a discriminatory law has been struck down.”
Mittman also told St. Louis Public Radio that the ruling means complete equality for all same-sex couples who live in Missouri.
“Whatever laws apply in the state of Missouri, apply to these couples. They are equal under the eyes of the law. Married is married." Mittman said.
The ruling does not overturn Missouri’s Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. And no such marriage performed in the state of Missouri will be legally recognized. Mittman noted that’s consistent with other state marriage laws.
“Missouri still does not perform marriages of first cousins or underage marriages or have common law marriage. But we do recognize the valid marriages of those couples who move here,” Mittman said.
Judge Youngs wrote in his decision that laws that don't recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages, but do recognize heterosexual marriage "irrational" and "arbitrary."
It’s not yet known if the state will appeal the decision. A spokesperson for state attorney general Chris Koster wrote in an email that his office is reviewing the ruling.
St. Louis Public Radio's Nancy Fowler contributed to this report.