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In Depth: How Will The Court’s Gay Marriage Rulings Impact Missourians?

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Gay rights activists view the recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage as a victory.

In two 5-4 decisions, the Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and effectively put to rest California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage by ruling that its supporters did not have standing to challenge a lower court’s ruling that the measure was unconstitutional.

The total number of states which allow gay marriage is now at thirteen plus the District of Columbia.  However, neither Missouri nor Illinois allow same-sex marriage.  Missouri has a constitutional ban on gay marriage and Illinois allows for civil unions but not marriage.

St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh talked with a variety of guests to get an understanding of what the Supreme Court’s recent decisions mean locally, both legally and personally, to those affected by the rulings.

A.J. Bockelman is the Executive Director of PROMO, Missouri’s statewide organization advocating for LGBT equality.

“We long for those opportunities to tell our stories,” Bockelman said. “I think what we’re going to see in the next month, quarter (and) year is a playing out of those stories and what it means.”

Bockelman said some Missourians, such as those married in other states, have increased rights because of the Supreme Court’s ruling, however, Missouri’s constitutional ban still creates inequities.

“We are committed to marriage equality in Missouri and seeing it through.  We will probably take the next thirty, sixty, ninety days to determine the best paths forward,” Bockelman said.  “For example, while we’ve been contacted … about wanting to file lawsuits to overturn [Missouri’s] ban, there are already other lawsuits filed in other states.”

Marsh was also joined by Denise Lieberman, a civil rights attorney and adjunct professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis.  She teaches a course on sexual orientation law.

Local residents Charlie Robin and Al Fischer also joined the program.  Robin and Fischer were married about a year and a half ago in New York.  Robin is Executive Director of the Edison Theatre at Washington University and Fischer is the music director of the Gateway Men’s Chorus.

Lastly, Sherrill Wayland, Executive Director of SAGE joined Marsh.  SAGE is an organization which advocates for LGBT elders.

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.
Don Marsh served as host of St. Louis Public Radio’s “St. Louis on the Air" from 2005 to 2019, bringing discussions of significant topics to listeners' ears at noon Monday through Friday. Don has been an active journalist for 58 years in print, radio and television. He has won 12 Regional Emmy Awards for writing, reporting, and producing. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, was inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame in 2013, and named “Media Person of the Year” by the St. Louis Press Club in 2015. He has published three books: his most recent, “Coming of Age, Liver Spots and All: A Humorous Look at the Wonders of Getting Old,” “Flash Frames: Journey of a Journeyman Journalist” and “How to be Rude (Politely).” He holds an honorary Doctor of Arts and Letters degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

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