Four Gay Couples Just Got Married in St. Louis to Challenge Missouri's Ban (UPDATED)

Categories: LGBT

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Tod Martin and his new husband David Gray at City Hall. | Lindsay Toler
Update 10:30 a.m.: The other shoe drops -- Attorney General Chris Koster responds to the city's actions. See update below.

If any city in Missouri is going to directly challenge the state's ten-year-old constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, it's St. Louis.

That was the message from St. Louis mayor Francis Slay Wednesday night when four gay couples married in his office, invoking what's sure to be a lengthy legal battle from Attorney General Chris Koster.

Slay says St. Louis' gay couples shouldn't have to "wait forever for a wave of tolerance to sweep up the Mississippi River." Since restricting the right to marry violates the U.S. Constitution, Slay says, he ordered the city's recorder of deeds to issue marriage licenses in spite of the Missouri Constitution's explicit ban against same-sex marriage.

Before she signed the marriage certificates, Sharon Carpenter, recorder of deeds for St. Louis city, asked for legal opinions from Winston Calvert, city counselor, and from Michael Wolff, dean as Saint Louis University Law School. Both lawyers told Carpenter that it's her duty as a public official to uphold the U.S. Constitution over the state's if Missouri's rules are found to be discriminatory.

"Many of Missouri's prior attempts to interfere with the freedom to marry have been invalidated as unconstitutional," including bans on interracial marriage and interfering with prisoners' rights to marry, Calvert told Carpenter. "Courts throughout the country have invalidated state marriage laws like Missouri's by holding that there is not even a rational basis -- much less an "important" reason -- for a state to discriminate against gay men and lesbians by denying them the right to marry."

See also: ACLU And Eight Gay Couples Sue Missouri Over Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Richard Eaton and John Durnell married Wednesday night after a 39-year engagement. Three other couples were also married: Tod Martin and David Gray (together 22 years), Miranda Duschack and Mimo Davis (four years), and Bruce Yampolsky and Tarry Garrett (30 years).

Here's a video profile of Eaton and Durnell's nuptials -- warning, it's a tearjerker:

John + Richard from Rue De La Vie on Vimeo.

"As state court after state court has deemed barring couples to marry under the law unconstitutional, it is time to make a stand," says Carpenter. "It is time to show that the people of St. Louis support equality and will fight for it. This is not a decision I have made lightly, but it is a right that must be defended. St. Louis stands with those who stand for love."

Slay has long been an advocate for allowing same-sex marriage. Just this week he co-signed a resolution with the U.S. Conference of Mayors supporting the freedom to marry.

See also: Mayor Francis Slay Says LGBT Issues Will Be a Priority in Historic Fourth Term

"Make no mistake about it, I, and all of us standing here, are doing this to force the issue and to get the law settled for everyone who wants to get married in the state of Missouri," Slay says. "If we weren't doing this, no other city in Missouri would."

In related news, yesterday the federal appeals court in Denver struck down as unconstitutional Utah's ban on same-sex marriages.

Update 10:30 a.m.: Here is a statement from AG Chris Koster's office -- unsurprisingly he's asking the marriages be halted.

While I personally support the goal of marriage equality, my duty as Attorney General is to defend the laws of the state of Missouri. While many people in Missouri have changed their minds regarding marriage equality, Missourians have yet to change their constitution.

Cases currently pending in Jefferson City and Kansas City regarding the constitutionality of Missouri's ban against same-sex marriage will be decided in the coming months. Regardless of my personal support for marriage equality, such vital questions cannot be decided by local county officials acting in contravention of state law.

Therefore, I have asked the St. Louis Circuit Court to prevent the St. Louis City Recorder of Deeds from issuing such marriage licenses until this matter can be resolved by our state's judiciary. This question will likely be fully answered by our Missouri courts within the next 12-18 months.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.



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208 comments
k8rude
k8rude

I have never been SO VERY PROUD OF ST. LOUIS!!

Brandon J. Tosie
Brandon J. Tosie

Do whatever makes u happy,and people should not pass judgement to someone because of their sexual preference..If u dont like it,dont look,and keep scrolling..I have alot of gay friends,and family members,men,and women...And they would do anything for u,and I would do anything for them! They are my friends and family no matter what!!!

billj598
billj598 topcommenter

Just ignore the issue and it will fade away.  The Media and the LGBT organization dote on all the attention, objections, disgust and hand-wringing over their overt, attention-seeking actions.  Anything that group can do to seek more reaction from society simply satisfies their urge to seek notoriety and exposure.  Just like a child that "acts out" to garner attention these people are eating up the opportunity to throw their sexual preference in society's face.  Just think about it. 

Amanda Renee Richardson
Amanda Renee Richardson

Why does anyone care if two women or two men want to get married? I say congratulations. Its not as if it will effect me in some substantial way. Just make gay marriage legal and move on to address things that actually effect large groups of people in a negative way, like say GMOs or the fact that the federal reserve isnt even federal but private, world hunger, homelessness, cancer, climate change, the list goes on and on. We are all being so distracted by each others beliefs on a subject that should only be cared about by the people involved that we don't pay enough attention to the bigger things that should actually matter

Laura Dee
Laura Dee

hmmm... check out that "edit history".

Matt Cox
Matt Cox

That's what's up, everyone has a right to be happy in life.

James Madison
James Madison

If the Mayor has his way, an uncle can marry his nephew, and an aunt marry her niece. The Missouri constitutional prohibits same-sex marriages, and prohibits aunt from marrying nephews, and uncles from marrying nieces. This is why we must follow the law or change the law. When people make up their own laws, we suddenly have a huge problem. Congratulations on once again not thinking and claiming unintentional consequences. When you do not consider any consequences, you cannot claim them unintentional.

Emily Baumstark Siddens
Emily Baumstark Siddens

Fantastic all around! About time stl is in the news for something positive! Go mayor slay! About time!

James Madison
James Madison

Not married according to the law of the land. Yes, that law will PROBABLY be overturned, but until it is, the State Constitution remains the law of these lands. Having elected officials ignore the laws they swore to uphold is disturbing whether you agree with the law or not. CHANGE THE LAW, then proceed. If we allow elected officials to pick and choose which laws they will uphold, we stop being a nation of laws, but a nation of where individual persons decide what the laws they wil obey are to be. Quite disturbing.

Lynn M Ser
Lynn M Ser

@ Scott Bernardo, I say you are setting a piss poor example of what the heterosexual community represents, whatever that may be...in addition, I say you are setting a piss poor example of what the human race represents, whatever that may be...I am a heterosexual female and I believe that the LBGT shouldn't have to be denied the privilege of marrying whom they love because the laws were written in a time where old conservative narrow-thinking white men deemed marriage between a man and a woman. Remember, women didn't have rights then. Slaves were allowed. Laws are way out dated and so is that narrow-mindness.

Constance Cafazza
Constance Cafazza

"COME UP WITH YOUR OWN LINGO!" ... now THERE's a fight to sink your teeth into! Bwaa hahahaaaahaaaaaaaa... good one. What a soldier for righteousness you are!!!

Ryan Alexander Dean
Ryan Alexander Dean

Scott, seriously? These people are comparing gay marriage to marrying pets (effectively calling gay people dogs) and you're saying the pro-equal rights people need to show respect? You can't say "you need to show respect" to people who've been systematically disrespected at every level for centuries now.

Ryan Alexander Dean
Ryan Alexander Dean

This Timothy guy is legitimately crazy. Not to mention dumb and mean. Don't even get me started on Steve, that sorry sack.

Steve Sack
Steve Sack

Not about whether you're gay or not who really gives a s*** what you want to do with your life I cannot judge you for that. But you when you force our government to make laws to provide you insurance and the like why do I need to endorse it, do what u want .I'm not asking you to buy me anything or pay my way honey why should I pay your way for your way of thinking. And that as you well know is really what this is all about

Laura Dee
Laura Dee

You said that gay couples aren't "equal" because they can't have babies. My parents can't have babies, so you are saying that they are not equal. Either that or that's not your real reason for not liking gay marriage. Just sayin'.

Doug Hammerstroem
Doug Hammerstroem

When gay marriage is finally legalized, a large gay man named Adam is going to show up unannounced at your door with a priest, a judge, and several armed thugs. You will then be forced into a gay marriage. I know... I know, you're "straight." Well too bad. You will then be forced (by the armed thugs) to open wedding gifts, eat cake, and consummate your marriage. You should definitely fight against its legalization because if its legalized this will happen to you! Adam and Steve!!!

RabidSquirrel
RabidSquirrel

These couples, and this mayor are truly inspiring.

As far as the debate on marriage let's make it clear. Religious marriage is separate from the legal definition of such. Thank god our Country is not under religious law like some people think. Whether Christian or otherwise.

I don't care whether you want to marry 1 or 20 same sex, different sex, whatever. Marriage is a legal agreement under law. If all parties are of legal age and consent, then no government, official, or religious institution should bar them from their pursuit of happiness. This is in our constitution. Want to end the partnership? Should be just as simple. No counseling, no nothing. Again, this is a legal agreement. If the religious institution for which they subscribe want to request they seek counseling, that is between them and their private parties. Nobody else.

We let our government take our own rights for the beliefs of ourselves or others. Your religion, and my religion, mean nothing to another. If we push our beliefs, we violate our own religious code. Read your scriptures.

Quite frankly, life is short. Why the hell are we arguing, let alone deciding on what make someone feel fulfilled in their life with another adult or adults? Why are we dictating what one can do in their own homes? Live and let live. It's time to drop the law from the books. No 12 - 18 months necessary.

Justin Burnett
Justin Burnett

Good because the manly butch lesbians give me heebee jeebees too Laura Dee.... I love girl on girl, but not butch on butch..... Lmao... THey wanna act like they got dicks....

Scott Bernardo
Scott Bernardo

What turns me off to the whole equal rights bs how arrogant and smug gay people get when they come to a disagreement with someone discussing this topic. To earn respect you must show respect. Respect others opinions. Life's all about perspective, think about it. When you are instantly offended by me or someone disagreeing with you it generally goes from a serious conversation to comical lol you're setting a piss poor example of what the lbgt community represents, whatever that may be..

Ashlie Voerg
Ashlie Voerg

Congrats! This makes me oh so very happy!

Janice Tepper
Janice Tepper

Seems a weird headline ~ like they only got married in order to challenge the ban.

PROMO
PROMO

Change your profile pictures today!

Amy Jo Hawkins
Amy Jo Hawkins

Laura Dee - Not saying anything of the sort. Congrats to your parents. They are like so many other couples I know.

Aerynn Andarta
Aerynn Andarta

Also, if you had people, including friends and family, telling you that you are less than a real person every day of your life then you may be a little defensive, too.

Aerynn Andarta
Aerynn Andarta

Amy Jo, the anger you hear is from years and years of having to have this discussion over and over. Each side has been spouting the same thing over and over. Your argument against gay marriage isn't a fresh perspective. We already have the counter points memorized. The arguments are never new. My question is who gets hurt when we allow gay marriage? Gay people aren't trying to take over. No one is forcing anyone to get married who doesn't want to. Taking out all religious arguments, what is really so bad about gay marriage? We can't have kids according to you, but we are already overpopulated, so that's actually a good thing.

Laura Dee
Laura Dee

Hmmm... last I checked, even gay people have to have consent from their partners to get married. A dog cannot give consent. If your dog can, you should be rich by now.

Steve Sack
Steve Sack

There cannot be complete equal rights. Agree?

Laura Dee
Laura Dee

NO ONE is making a law like that. No one. You don't HAVE to believe in a secular marriage. No one does except for those in the marriage. It just has to be recognized by the state so that the couple gets the rights they deserve in our country. The right to see their loved one in the hospital, for instance. And yes, even the right to a tax break. Gay people are already getting married all over the country... has it directly effected you AT ALL? No. I don't think so.

Laura Dee
Laura Dee

Timothy is telling Leland that he's bad for using "slurs" when the first thing he wrote was about "sick shit". Hypocrite.

Laura Dee
Laura Dee

Oh geez... he believes in Adam and Eve... he's beyond help. Even Catholics know that's just a fable. Anti-evolutionists are idiots.

Laura Dee
Laura Dee

Wow! Did someone FORCE you to marry a man, Timothy?? That's incredible!!

adambathon
adambathon

@billj598 It is NOT about attention. It is not about shoving anything in anyone's face. Marriage in and of itself is a public acknowledgment. If you were a minority or gay for example you would be singing a different tune BILL.


adambathon
adambathon

Comparing apples to oranges. If you had a better understanding of the facts of same-sex couples you would not speak such ignorance. You're bigotry is showing.

adambathon
adambathon

Maybe you didn't read the article since your hatred was boiling over....but the Mayor clearly stated that this was an attempt to get the issue back in Court to have it re-examined on account of the progress of other state's recently finding (the obvious) that it is unconstitutional (as the Supreme Court found) to enshrine discrimination into the Constitution of the United States or any one State's constitution.

adambathon
adambathon

Gays do pay in taxes your benefits if you are in fact married as a heterosexual....talk about a double standard....WARNING: You're Bigotry is SHOWING!

adambathon
adambathon

I hope you're being coy....if not...no words.

adambathon
adambathon

Just STOP. This isn't a middle school locker room...you're on a public board....go take a cold shower and get it together. You're a mess.

adambathon
adambathon

I feel soaked in piss after reading your diatribe....get it together.

adambathon
adambathon

Maybe you missed the part of being together 39+ years....there's your answer...and if you need that further explained ... I charge by the hour just like an Attorney.

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