US: St Louis challenges Missouri same-sex marriage ban

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The Jackson County Circuit Court heard testimony Monday from the assistant attorney general and the St Louis City Counselor on the validity of Missouri’s same-sex marriage ban.

Assistant Attorney General Jeremiah Morgan, argued that the state’s same-sex marriage ban is backed by 71% of the people, making it clear that citizens of Missouri want marriage to be defined as between one man and one woman.

St Louis City Counselor Winston Calvert, countered the argument by saying that the state has no right to treat same-sex couples differently than their straight counterparts.

He said: “The laws forbid some people from choosing who they marry. It’s only the gay and lesbian couples who are treated as second class citizens by the state.”

In 2004, Missourians voted in favour of a referendum that defined marriage as between one man and woman.

This year, as a direct challenge to the same-sex marriage ban, St Louis granted marriage licenses to four couples, triggering the case before the Jackson County Circuit Court.

Bruce Yampolsky and Terry Garret, one of four couples who received marriage licenses, are hopeful that overturning the ban would make life easier for the next generation.

Garret said: “It would at least open doors for the next generation not to have the trials and tribulations that we had. We should be able to decide who we love.”

It is unclear when Judge Rex Burlison will rule on the constitutionality of Missouri’s same-sex marriage ban.

The case is one of three being heard across the state arguing the ban.