Federal Judge Strikes Down Missouri Ban on Marriage Equality

by Charles Joughin

WASHINGTON – Today U.S. District Court Judge Ortrie D. Smith ruled against Missouri’s state constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, making the Show Me State the latest state to see such a ban struck down in court since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its historic marriage rulings last June. In Lawson v. Kelly, the ACLU of Missouri sued the state on behalf of same-sex couples who argue that Missouri’s ban on marriage equality violates the U.S. Constitution.

“Today’s federal court ruling is further evidence that discriminatory marriage bans don’t pass Constitutional muster,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.  “Whereas yesterday two judges of the Sixth Circuit firmly planted themselves on the wrong side of history, Judge Smith’s ruling today is in keeping with an overwhelming majority of federal court rulings that make clear discrimination has no place in our society, must less our laws. Now more than ever before the Supreme Court of the United States must resolve the issue once and for all.”

Today’s ruling in Missouri is the first federal court ruling striking down a marriage ban from a state within the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Yesterday the Sixth Circuit overturned lower court rulings that struck down Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee bans on marriage equality.  Up to that point, no state marriage ban had survived a federal circuit court ruling. What’s more, the Supreme Court of the United States issued an order last month allowing the pro-marriage equality rulings from the Fourth, Seventh and Tenth Circuits to stand, immediately making marriage for same-sex couples possible in five new states – with many more following soon after.  The decision by the Sixth Circuit creates a circuit court split, which increases the likelihood of the Supreme Court taking up the issue in the near future. 

Gallup puts support for marriage equality at 55 percent – an astonishing 15 points increase from just 5 years ago – with other polls showing support at even higher margins.  And support for same-sex marriage rights continues to grow in virtually every demographic group.  According to ABC News / Washington Post, 77 percent of adults under age 30 favor marriage equality.  40 percent of Republicans – an all-time high and jump of 16 points in under two years – now support marriage for gay and lesbian couples, while the number of Catholics supporting marriage has grown to 62 percent, according to the New York Times.  These numbers continue to grow, with no indication that support will slow down. 

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.


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