[PHOTOS] Women Who Met as Ferguson Protesters Marry at St. Louis City Hall

Categories: Ferguson, LGBT

All photos by Kelly Glueck
Brittany Ferrell says "yes" to Alexis Templeton.
Surrounded by turmoil in the streets of Ferguson, Alexis Templeton and Brittany Ferrell fell in love.

On Tuesday, the two University of Missouri-St. Louis students and activist leaders started to make their love official by getting engaged on the steps of St. Louis City Hall and applying for their marriage license. The couple says they're still planning their ceremony -- no surprise since Ferrell had only proposed the day before.

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GOP Leaders Try, Fail to Stop Missouri from Recognizing Gay Marriages

Categories: LGBT

House Speaker Tim Jones (L) and Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey.
Better luck next time, boys.

Missouri's Republican legislative leaders tried this month to stop the Show-Me State from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states, such as Illinois, which expanded the right to marry more than a year ago.

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, a Republican from St. Charles, and House Speaker Tim Jones, a Republican from Eureka, filed a motion to intervene in the Jackson County case Barrier v. Vasterling so they could take the case to the Missouri Supreme Court. Judge Dale Youngs ruled in that case in October that Missouri must recognize out-of-state gay marriages, giving those couples access to tax, insurance, veterans' and other benefits despite the Missouri's ten-year-old, voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages.

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Missouri Could Earn $39 Million By Keeping Same-Sex Marriage Legal

Categories: LGBT

Lindsay Toler
Sadie Pierce and Lilly Leyh were the first couple to officially marry in St. Louis after a judge struck down Missouri's ban on gay marriage.
If same-sex marriage stays legal in Missouri, wedding spending could funnel almost $39 million into the state economy.

That's according to a new study from financial site NerdWallet, whose analysts crunched the numbers to see how America's $51 billion wedding industry will expand as the right to marry spreads. Consumer spending on same-sex weddings would add up to more than $2.5 billion nationwide if gay marriage is legalized throughout the U.S., the study says.

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Same-Sex Marriage Supporters Ask Attorney General Not to Appeal Court Ruling

Categories: LGBT

Danny Wicentowski
Crystal Peairs and April Breeden kiss after marrying in the St. Louis City Hall rotunda Wednesday.
Newly married same-sex couples, clergy and other supporters will ask Attorney General Chris Koster today not to appeal a judge's ruling that says Missouri's ten-year-old ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

More than 3,000 Missourians have signed a petition that asks Koster not to appeal so the state can, as the petition says, "put this ban to rest once and for all."

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St. Louis Lesbian Couple Gets Creepy Anonymous Letter After Wedding

Categories: LGBT

Danny Wicentowski
Kelley Harris and Kelly Barnard of St. Louis brought the whole family along with them to the Recorder of Deeds office.
After years of working at Planned Parenthood, Kelley Harris is trained to spot threat letters.

So when a letter with an incomplete return address arrived at the St. Louis home she shares with her new wife and their two children, Harris got suspicious.

"As soon as I saw it in the mail, I thought, 'Oh, this is probably a hate letter,'" Harris tells Daily RFT.

The anonymous, lengthy letter sent from Omar, West Virginia, and postmarked through Charleston, West Virginia, which was postmarked the day after Harris and Barnard married at St. Louis City Hall after a judge ruled Missouri's ten-year-old ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, appears to target the couple for their same-sex nuptials. Harris says she and her wife don't know anyone in West Virginia.

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Federal Judge Strikes Down Missouri's Same-Sex Marriage Ban, Attorney General Appealing

Categories: LGBT

RFT Street Team
A couple getting engaged at this year's PrideFest.

In a case involving two same-sex couples who tried to obtain their marriage licenses in Jackson County back in June, a federal judge declared today that Missouri's gay-marriage ban is unconstitutional.

This comes just days after a St. Louis circuit judge reached the same conclusion, resulting in marriage licenses being issued in both the city and county.

Marriage licenses were held up in other parts of Missouri, however, as a statewide organization of recorders deemed that the order from the circuit judge only applies to the city. This ruling, from U.S. District Court Judge Ortrie D. Smith, would seemingly put that debate to rest -- however the judge's order would not go into effect until any and all appeals have been exhausted.

Attorney General Chris Koster announced this morning that he does plan to appeal the ruling to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

"This is the third Missouri court to look at marriage exclusion in the last month and the third court to find that it's unconstitutional under the 14th amendment. I think that's the big important thing that's happening here," said Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. "I think it's a little less clear how this will play out in the next couple of days."

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Counties Outside St. Louis Area Denying Couples Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Categories: LGBT

Danny Wicentowski
Kelley Harris and Kelly Barnard tied the knot on Wednesday night at the St. Louis Recorder's Office.

Update 2 p.m.: Jackson County began issuing same-sex licenses today. More information at the bottom of this post.

Late Wednesday afternoon, St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison declared Missouri's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, and almost immediately local couples hurried down to city hall to get hitched. But one question arose almost immediately: Does the order apply to all of Missouri, or just the city of St. Louis?

Sherry Mariea, an attorney for the Recorders' Association of Missouri, read Burlison's judgment and order, then emailed all of the organization's members with her answer: The decision only pertains to the St. Louis' recorder, and no one else in the state should be issuing same-sex marriage licenses. So far only St. Louis County is going against her advice.

"There was no mention of the ruling enjoining the state of Missouri," Mariea told Daily RFT. "Therefore, I do believe it applies only to the city."

But other lawyers, including Mike Bridges, who represents one of the four couples who married at St. Louis City Hall in June, disagrees.

"I think that it's pretty clear that it applies to the rest of the state," he said. "The plaintiff in the case was the State of Missouri, and this judgment provided so-called injunctive relief which prohibits the State of Missouri from taking a contrary position."

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Photos: First Same-Sex Couples Wed in St. Louis City Hall Following Judge's Ruling

Categories: LGBT

All photos by Danny Wicentowski
Sadie Pierce (on left) and Lilly Leyh took their oaths Wednesday afternoon, becoming the first same sex couple to marry after a judge struck down Missouri's ban on gay marriage.
"Oh my gosh, we're the first."

That was all Sadie Pierce could say before emotion overtook her. She clasped a hand over her mouth and buried her face in Lilly Leyh's shoulder, sobbing, while an audience of city officials, LGBT rights advocates, clergy and media streamed into the Recorder of Deeds office in St. Louis City Hall.

Pierce and Leyh had rushed downtown yesterday after hearing the day's big news: A Missouri judge had ruled that the state's decade-long ban on same-sex marriage violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law. Not long after the ruling, Pierce and Leyh raised their right hands, took their oaths, signed their names and made Missouri history.

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26 LGBT-Friendly Wedding Vendors On Supporting Missouri Marriage Equality

Categories: LGBT

Purple Sherbet Photography
Missouri's constitutional ban on same-sex marriages has been struck down by a judge.
After ten years and three months with a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, Missouri is now one of the 33 states where gay couples can get hitched.

There's still a legal battle to be fought, but Attorney General Chris Koster says he won't stop anyone from marrying while he appeals a St. Louis circuit court judge's ruling that says Missouri's marriage ban is unconstitutional.

See also: Same-Sex Marriage Is Legal in Missouri

Gay couples marrying in other states have had trouble with wedding vendors who refuse to serve them as customers. But never fear, Missouri -- the Show-Me State is full of wedding vendors who've backed marriage equality from the get-go.

PROMO, Missouri's leading LGBT advocacy group, asked wedding vendors statewide to share why they support same-sex marriage. Here's what 26 of those vendors had to say:

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Same-Sex Marriage Is Legal in Missouri

Categories: LGBT

Miranda Duschack and Mimo Davis married in June despite Missouri's ban.
Sound the wedding bells because as of today, same-sex couples can get married in the Show-Me State.

St. Louis Circuit Court judge Rex Burlison ruled Wednesday that Missouri's ten-year-old, voter-approved same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional, opening marriages up to all legal, consenting adults.

Recorder of Deeds Jennifer Florida says the city of St. Louis is prepared for gay couples to apply for marriage licenses as soon as today. St. Louis County is also taking license applications.

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