The rapidly changing landscape around same-sex marriage has prompted an education campaign to help Missourians keep up with the issue.
PROMO, an organization advocating for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) equality, is officially launching a new informational website. ShowMeMarriage.com will offer updates, polling data and personal stories from same-sex couples.
The website comes amid a flurry of recent and upcoming legal rulings on same-sex marriage around the country. Nineteen states including Illinois – plus Washington, D.C., – allow same-sex marriage. More states are expected to decide the issue in the next few months, according to PROMO executive director A.J. Bockelman.
“Over the fall, we’re going to have a lot of other cases come up around the country and we want to make things are relevant for people right here in Missouri,” Bockelman said.
Marriage in Missouri
Following the patchwork of developments around same-sex marriage can be like a cat trying to keep up with that elusive red dot.
This past June, Mayor Francis Slay issued licenses to four same-sex couples. But there, the dot disappears. There are no plans to marry additional same-sex couples at City Hall.
Three lawsuits around the issue are pending in Missouri. In late September, a Kansas City judge is set to hear Barrier v. Vesterling, in which eight couples are seeking recognition of their out-of-state marriages.
Missouri has a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only the union of one man and one woman. But same-sex couples did file state and federal tax returns together this year. Gov. Jay Nixon issued an executive order allowing joint filings after the IRS said couples in all states could file together.
That decision followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, which had prevented legal recognition of same-sex unions. Opponents tried to overturn Nixon’s order but were unable to do so.
The ability of Missouri couples to marry in Illinois is hit-and-miss. Only some Illinois counties will issue licenses to pairs of two men or two women, a quandary that has some Missouri couples unsure about whether to marry there.
An old Illinois law prohibits any marriage that would be invalid in a couple’s home state. The law originally addressed varying ages of consent among the states.
Out of the Closet
PROMO is set to debut its Show Me Marriage website at with a launch party from 6 to 8 p.m. at Meyers Grove nightclub on Manchester Avenue, in the Grove area.
The website will be updated for a period of 12 to 20 weeks. It will feature personal testimonies from same-sex couples about protections for their children including social security benefits, and other rights conferred by marriage. Bockelman said these stories help people understand the need for a legal bond.
“If you want to educate people about LGBT issues, the strongest thing you can do is come out of the closet,” Bockelman said.
Those who want to keep up with rapidly developing events around same-sex marriage can also get regular updates by texting the word “love” to 30644.