|J. Dale Youngs, a Jackson County, Missouri circuit court judge. Photo by Christian Gooden, firstname.lastname@example.org|
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Oct 3, 2014, 4:51 PM ET
By BILL DRAPER Associated Press
Missouri must recognize the marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other states, a state judge ruled Friday, saying the state's constitution and laws banning the unions are unconstitutional.
The order by Jackson County Circuit Judge J. Dale Youngs means that such couples will be eligible to sign up for a wide range of tax, health insurance, veterans and other benefits now afforded to opposite-sex couples. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, who has defended the state's ban on gay marriage, said it was reviewing the ruling.
Youngs ruling comes in a lawsuit filed by 10 same-sex couples who were married in states where gay marriage is legal. They couple argue that their rights to equal protection and due process are being violated by Missouri's ban on gay marriage.
|Janice Barrier (left) and Sherie Schild Photo credit: The Vital Voice|
Young agreed, saying the couples deserve the same recognition as opposite-sex couples who were married in other states. He said the laws serve no legitimate government interest.
The case is among at least three challenging Missouri's ban on same-sex marriage. The others include a federal challenge in Kansas City and a St. Louis case in which city officials granted marriage licenses to four same-sex couples to trigger a legal test of the ban.
The lawsuits are based on the same arguments that led the U.S. Supreme Court last year to overturn part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that denied a tax, health and other benefits to legally married gay couples.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. The American Civil Liberties Union says it has marriage cases pending against 13 other states, of which five are before federal appeals courts.