Circuit court judge rules Missouri's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional

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COLUMBIA - Mid-Missouri residents JoDe and Lisa Layton-Brinker got married in Des Moines, Iowa four years ago because they knew their marriage wouldn't happen or be acknowledged in Missouri.

"We decided to go to Iowa because it was important to us to have documentation," JoDe Layton-Brinker said. "That somewhere, we were acknowledged and seen as just a married couple."

The Layton-Brinkers were heavily involved in the court's recent decision to recognize same-sex marriages from other states, such as theirs in Iowa.

But their happiness was heightened Wednesday when Circuit Court Judge Rex Burlison ruled the gay marriage ban in Missouri was unconstitutional.

Lisa Layton-Brinker said she and JoDe were ecstatic when they heard.

"I think we were both excited," Lisa Layton-Brinker said. "We had this ruling last month for recognition for out of state marriages, and so now its a little bit more excitement that you can finally get married in the state of Missouri."

Immediately following Berlison's decision, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster appealed the decision to the Missouri Supreme Court. 

He said "the constitutional challenge to Missouri's historically recognized right to refine marriage must be presented to and resolved by the state's highest court."

JoDe Layton-Brinker said she thinks the appeal only shows getting gay marriage rights in Missouri is a process and will take a while.

"It may take us a bit but for those couples who are getting married, I hope that they do realize that this isn't just done and over with," she said. "There will be a process probably but hopefully in the end they're going to have the same recognition that the rest of us do."

Currently, 32 states recognize and have legal same-sex marriages while 18 still have a ban on same-sex marriages.

Lisa Layton-Brinker said she thinks that even if Burlison's ruling is overturned, she hopes they can take their case to the United States Supreme Court.

"I think if it's a state ruling then we have to think it's a little defeat and hope that we can appeal it to the Supreme Court and have it struck down," she said. "How would Missouri feel to be the only state where it's not allowed?"

There is no stay related to Koster's appeal, so couples are still allowed to get marriages licenses while the appeal is ongoing. 

Lisa, left, and wife JoDe Layton-Brinker, right, happily discuss the St. Louis judge's decision to strike down Missouri's ban on gay marriage on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in Columbia, Missouri. Both Lisa and JoDe are two key players in the gay marriage movement. (KOMU/Hannah Smith)

Following a court ruling on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, JoDe Layton-Brinker talks about coming out to her children in Columbia, Missouri. Layton-Brinker says it took her oldest son until her wedding day to give his blessing. (KOMU/Hannah Smith)

Lisa Layton-Brinker rubs her wedding ring that wife, JoDe Layton-Brinker, proposed to her with four years ago on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in Columbia, Missouri. Lisa hopes Missouri continues to make progress on marriage equality. (KOMU/Hannah Smith)