Federal judge rules MO same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional
KANSAS CITY - A federal judge in Kansas City ruled Friday morning that Missouri's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, striking down the 2004 state constitutional amendment, but Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said he will appeal the ruling to the federal court in St. Louis.
This most recent judgment by federal judge Ortie D. Smith declared the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from marriage unconstitutional, allowing Missouri to join 32 other states and the District of Columbia in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The decision came after an ACLU of Missouri lawsuit, Lawson v. Jackson County, on behalf of two couples who were denied marriage licenses earlier this year and claimed that violated their civil rights.
According to the ACLU of Missouri, Angela Curtis and Shannon McGinty have been waiting to marry until they could do it in Missouri. Curtis said, "Sharing this news will be almost as exciting as when we got engaged."
McGinty said, "It was important to us to wait for full marriage equality where we could celebrate with all of our family and friends in the state where we live."
Tony Rother, legal director for ACLU of Missouri, said, "This is a historic day for same-sex couples, who have waited far too long to be able to marry in Missouri."
Wednesday, a St. Louis state circuit court judge declared Missouri's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. Attorney General Koster said he would appeal both rulings, citing a defense of Missouri's right to define marriage.
PROMO, a statewide advocacy organization promoting LGBT equality, released a statement Friday urging Koster not to appeal. PROMO's Executive Director A.J. Bockelman said, "This is an incredible, historic day for Missouri. Missouri is now a state where all couples have the freedom to marry the person they love right in their home state."
According to the Associated Press, Smith is delaying the effect of his ruling during the appeal process. However, officials in Jackson County announced later Friday that they will begin granting marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.
The Boone County Recorder of Deeds Bettie Johnson said Friday the county office was awaiting legal guidance before it would consider issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
[Editor's note: This story has been edited to reflect the most recent information.]