Judge overturns Missouri ban on gay marriage

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – A St. Louis Circuit Judge rules Missouri`s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, making it legal for gay and lesbian couples to get married in Missouri.

The Missouri Attorney General immediately filed an appeal with the Missouri Supreme Court.

The City of St. Louis deliberately forced the question of same-sex marriage into court back in June after four same-sex couples were issued marriage licenses by the St. Louis Recorder of Deeds and then invited to hold their ceremonies in the mayor`s office.

Before the court, the city argued marriage is a fundamental right and that Missouri`s voter-approved constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage categorically denies that fundamental right to a class of people.

Wednesday afternoon, Circuit Judge Rex Burlison issued a ruling saying Missouri`s ban on same-sex marriage violates the equal protection and due process provisions of the constitution.

Within an hour of the ruling, three same-sex couples arrived at city hall to get marriage licenses.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay defended the challenge, despite approval of the constitutional ban by 71 percent of Missouri voters in 2004.

'Times have changed since then. Attitudes are changing and the more awareness there is out there, the more people understand what we are talking about,' he said. All across the United States of America, states are falling in line one after the other because the more you know about it, the more you think about it, this is just about treating people equally,' Slay said.

Because the U.S. Supreme Court has turned down similar challenges from other states, Koster says he is not seeking a stay of the court order, allowing couples to continue marrying while the case works its way through the court system.

The first couple to get their license Wednesday was Sadie Pierce and Lilly Leyh. They have been together two years and met as students at Washington University.

'We are just excited and there are so many people who always wanted to get married that haven`t been able to and I feel like for a young couple to get married first is sort of an interesting dynamic and something that is overwhelming because some people never had that opportunity,' Leyh said.