US: Court orders Missouri to recognise same-sex marriages from out of state

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A Missouri court has ordered the state to begin recognition of same-sex marriages conducted out-of-state.

Jackson County Circuit Judge J. Dale Youngs was ruling in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of 10 gay and lesbian couples who legally married outside the state.

Mr Youngs ruled there was “no logical reason” for the state to ban recognition of marriages performed legally elsewhere in the US, though the case did not focus on the state’s marriage ban itself.

State recognition of marriage affords same-sex couples a raft of protections, including for tax, health insurance, benefits.

The ruling is the first to strike down part of a marriage ban in Missouri, a midwestern state which has a historically poor record on gay rights, as one of four states that maintained its ban on sodomy until the US Supreme Court overturned it in 2003.

ACLU Missouri exec Jeffrey A Mittman said:  “This is a personal win for our 10 courageous couples who stepped up to represent the LGBT community.

“Even better ― this is a win for the whole state because a discriminatory law has been struck down.”

Janice Barrier and Sherie Schild, one of the 10 couples who the case represented, said: “Our hearts are filled with jubilation. We believe the judge made a fair and just decision recognizing marriage for same-sex couples.”

The state’s Attorney General Chris Koster says his office is currently evaluating the ruling.