The Freedom to Marry in Missouri

Winning Marriage: June 26, 2015

The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the freedom to marry nationwide on June 26, 2015, allowing all same-sex couples in Missouri the ability to marry once and for all. The decision followed more than a year of marriage litigation in Missouri.

History and the Path to Victory:

  • July 3, 1996: The Missouri Legislature enacts a state statute restricting marriage to different-sex couples in Missouri and denying legal respect to same-sex couples who legally receive marriage licenses from other states.
  • 2001: The Missouri Legislature enacts a state statute specifically stating that Missouri would not respect marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples, even if the licenses were legally issued in other jurisdictions.
  • August 3, 2004: Opponents of the freedom to marry in Missouri push through Amendment 2, a constitutional amendment denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry and any other legal family status. The amendment cements clearly discriminatory language into the Missouri Constitution.
  • 2004-2013: As Americans nationwide engage in conversations about why marriage matters, national and local advocates in Missouri take strides toward increasing understanding of same-sex couples and their families.
  • June 2012: Polling in Missouri tracks marked growth in support for the freedom to marry, reflecting the power of the national discussion of why marriage matters.
  • June 24, 2014: Same-sex couples and the American Civil Liberties Union file a state legal case seeking the freedom to marry in Missouri, Lawson v. Jackson County Department of Reporter of Deeds. In the same year, several other cases are filed, building momentum for marriage in the courts. Read the initial complaint in Lawson. 
  • October 3, 2014: Missouri Circuit Judge J. Dale Youngs rules in Barrier v. Vasterling that Missouri must respect marriage licenses legally issued to same-sex couples in other states. Shortly after the ruling, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster says the state will not appeal the decision. Read the ruling.
  • November 5, 2014: St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison rules in a state legal case that denying the freedom to marry to same-sex couples is unconstitutional. The decision is limited to St. Louis, but several other counties begin issuing marriage licenses following the order. Read the ruling. 
  • November 7, 2014: U.S. District Court Judge Ortrie D. Smith rules in favor of the freedom to marry in a federal case from Missouri, striking down the state's marriage ban. The ruling is appealed to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, where it is stayed pending action from the U.S. Supreme Court. Read the ruling. 
  • June 26, 2015: The United States Supreme Court rules in favor of the freedom to marry, ending marriage discrimination across the country.

Groups That Actively Worked on Marriage

  • PROMO is Missouri's statewide organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality through legislative action, electoral politics, grassroots organizing, and community education.
  • Show Me Marriage was a public education campaign dedicated to leading the conversation on why marriage matters to same-sex couples in Missouri.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, the state Constitution, and state and federal laws.
  • The ACLU of Missouri is the state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, committed to standing up for equality for all Missourians.
  • Freedom to Marry was the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.