The Buzz

Lawsuit looks to recognize same-sex marriages in Missouri

Updated: 2014-02-12T22:04:32Z

By JASON HANCOCK

The Star’s Jefferson City correspondent

— Litigation set to be filed this week hopes to nullify Missouri’s voter-backed ban on same-sex marriage.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit Wednesday on behalf of a group of same-sex couples seeking legal recognition from Missouri of marriages obtained in other states.

The organization, along with the gay rights group PROMO, held news conferences around the state Wednesday announcing the lawsuit.

James MacDonald and Andrew Schuerman, married in Vancouver in 2005 and now living in the Kansas City area, are among the plantiffs in the lawsuit. The two are raising a 2-year-old daughter and are asking the state to recognize their Canadian marriage.

Missouri voters overwhelmingly voted in 2004 to amend the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. But in the decade since, the landscape on gay marriage has shifted rapidly.

The District of Columbia and 17 states currently recognize same-sex marriage. And in Oklahoma, a federal judge ruled last month that a ban passed in that state the same year as Missouri’s violates the U.S. Constitution. That decision was halted while an appeal is heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

The Missouri lawsuit follows a long line of similar litigation around the country after a U.S. Supreme Court decision last summer declaring parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

On Wednesday, a federal judge Wednesday struck down Kentucky’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states, saying the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

News of a challenge to Missouri’s ban is unlikely to get a warm greeting in the Republican-dominated General Assembly. Legislative leaders in the House and Senate have expressed opposition to same-sex marriage.

Additionally, an effort is underway in the Missouri House to impeach Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, over his decision late last year to allow same-sex couples who are legally married in other states to file joint tax returns in Missouri.

However, the impeachment issue is unlikely to get traction in the legislature.

To reach Jason Hancock, call 573-634-3565 or send email to jhancock@kcstar.com.

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