Missouri lawyer says definition of marriage has changed

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COLUMBIA - Now that the Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage across the country, one civil rights attorney says the legal definition of "marriage" has changed.

"In 2004, Missouri passed a constitutional amendment, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman, and declared that we didn't have to recognize marriages granted in other states," attorney and counselor at law Stephen Wyse said. "That is no longer the case."

The SCOTUS decision came out Friday morning, and Boone County went straight to work consulting with its legal counsel. 

"I followed the SCOTUS blog this morning, and as soon as I saw the ruling, I notified my legal counsel so that he could review the language of the ruling and make sure that it applied to my office," Nora Dietzel, Boone County recorder of deeds, said. "In the meantime, one of the couples who had read the SCOTUS ruling came down to the office and just kind of stayed with us while we waited for that legal opinion to come down."

Wyse said from a legal standpoint, Boone County did exactly what it was supposed to do in issuing marriage licenses the same day the decision came out.

"They were acting under the law of the land. The law of the land is now settled. This is it. You may not like it, but that's the law," Wyse said.

But not all counties have followed suit.

"We have our own legal counsel in Boone County whereas a lot of counties do not have that luxury. They rely on the state association's attorney or their prosecuting attorney to give them legal counsel on whether or not this ruling affects them," Dietzel said. "So many of them are waiting on that word and maybe putting in a time frame to implement changes in their office to accommodate the same-sex marriage licenses."

But according to a statement from the Recorders' Association of Missouri, this SCOTUS decision has a time frame that is different from many.

"Additionally, rulings of the Supreme Court take effect 25 days after the date of the ruling unless the court states otherwise, which is not the case in this decision. It is also important to point out there is no restriction with regard to implementing the ruling before 25 days," Jan Jones, president of the Recorders Association of Missouri, said in its statement.

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