State judge rules Missouri must respect marriages performed legally in other states

Today, October 3, Missouri Circuit Court Judge J. Dale Youngs ruled that marriages between same-sex couples legally performed in other states must be respected in Missouri. The ruling is the 41st ruling in favor of the freedom to marry since June 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the core of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. 

The ruling comes just days after an oral argument in the case, Barrier v. Vasterling, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and PROMO, a statewide organization committed to working toward equality for LGBT Missourians. The case involved eight married same-sex couples seeking respect for their marriage where they live, in Missouri. One of the couples, Zuleyma and Arlene, have been together for more than 30 years. You can read great profiles of the couples here, from The Vital Voice.

The judge wrote:

This case presents an issue of first impression in Missouri: Under the Constitutions of the United States and State of Missouri, must defendants recognize out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples that are legal in the jursidiction in which they were contracted - just as it recognized all other similarly valid out-of-state marriages? The answer is yes.

Read the full ruling here.

The afternoon after the oral argument, Show Me Marriage, a coalition of organizations dedicated to amplifying support for the freedom to marry across the state of Missouri, held a rally on the steps of the Jackson County Courthouse. Freedom to Marry's National Campaign Director Marc Solomon - who was raised in Kansas City - attended the rally and spoke out about how we can continue moving forward in states across the country in order to show the U.S. Supreme Court that it's time for marriage nationwide. 

Freedom to Marry National Campaign Director Marc Solomon said today:

Committed same-sex couples who are married should be treated as married no matter where they live. Couples in America should not have to play ‘now you’re married now you’re not’ as they travel, work, or move across state lines. Judge Youngs’s ruling powerfully affirms that principle. Yet the only way we’ll achieve national resolution on the freedom to marry is for the Supreme Court to take up a marriage case, bring an end to the unsustainable patchwork of marriage laws across the country, and affirm the freedom to marry for all.

To the extent these laws prohibit plaintiffs’ legally contracted marriages from other states from being recognized here, they are wholly irrational, do not rest upon any reasonable basis, and are purely arbitrary.

In total, 41 separate rulings have been issued since June 2013 in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. More than 80 cases have been filed in state and federal courts across the country. In five cases, all parties have urged the United States Supreme Court to grant certiorari this year and resolve the question of whether same-sex couples have the freedom to marry.

Learn all about marriage litigation here.