Judge Rules Against Anti-Gay Marriage Effort in Legal Fight Over Missouri Taxes

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For now, at least, married gay couples in Missouri can pay joint taxes.
Ever since Governor Jay Nixon altered Missouri's tax code to allow legally married gay couples to file joint taxes -- a move that puts the state in line with federal rules -- anti-gay marriage advocates are pulling out every trick in the book to stop him.

First, they filed a lawsuit. Then Rep. Nick Marshall tried to impeach Nixon.

The final trick in the anti-gay marriage playbook was a restraining order from four of Missouri's most committed conservatives who say changing the tax rule is tantamount to legalizing gay marriage in the Show-Me State.

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Spouses v. Husband & Wife: Fight over Taxes for Married Gay Couples Heats Up

stevendamron on flickr
"Here? Where it says 'wife?' Can we change that to 'spouse?'"
Gay couples may be constitutionally banned from marrying in Missouri, but this year, for the first time, LGBT people who marry in other states and pay taxes here are allowed to file jointly, like any other married couple.

Conservative, "pro-family" activists want to change that. They've tried lawsuits. They've tried impeaching the governor, who changed the rule in the first place.

Now, they're trying a restraining order.

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As Fred Phelps Inches Toward Hell, Missouri Law Forbids Funeral Protests He's Known For

Rev. Fred Phelps.
The hate-mongering piece of garbage that is The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., is almost dead, but at least he lived long enough to see a Missouri judge uphold a law forbidding his followers from one of their most antagonizing tactics: funeral protests.

Protesters at funerals must stay 300 feet away starting one hour before the funeral and ending an hour after the services, U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan, Jr., ruled last week.

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Stripper Suit: PT's Clubs Respond to Lawsuit Demanding Wages for Exotic Dancers

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Strippers on the East Side are suing over their wages.
VCG Holdings Corp., the company behind the PT's chain of strip clubs, says it will fight back in a lawsuit filed by two exotic dancers who say clubs cheated them out of wages by classifying them as "independent contractors," not employees.

The plaintiffs -- two strippers from Missouri named Brandy Apple and Amanda Sheer -- say in the class action suit that the clubs threatened retaliation on any of the about 300 dancers who wanted to change to full employees. The women also say their tips from table dances, lap dances and their other sexy services were unfairly taken from them -- first in a required tip split, then in an additional $1-per-song "tip-out" to managers, bartenders, bouncers and other employees.

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Petition Asks MO Attorney General Chris Koster to Release Cornealious "Mike" Anderson

Thumbnail image for cornealious_michael_anderson.jpg
Courtesy LaQonna Anderson

Update 11:40 a.m.: This American Life just posted the petition to their Facebook page and the signature count has skyrocketed. Currently, there are over 1,300 names.

Last weekend, the national radio program This American Life ran a piece on Cornealious "Mike" Anderson. The report is based on a Riverfront Times feature we published back in September. It tells the strange story of how Anderson was convicted of armed robbery back in 1999, but was never picked up by Missouri authorities. The state finally realized its mistake this past July and re-arrested him. In the past thirteen years, Anderson rehabilitated himself and started a family with his wife. Today, he's back in prison. His release date is currently set for 2026.

Since it aired, RFT and Anderson's attorney, Patrick Michael Megaro have received a steady stream of e-mails from listeners asking how they can advocate for Anderson's release. In response, Megaro posted an online petition at Change.org, entitled "Release Cornealious Michael Anderson III From Prison." And the signature ticker is slowly rising.

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Strippers' Lawsuit Against PT's Clubs Makes Exotic Dancing Sound Like the Worst Job Ever

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Brandy Apple is an amazing stripper name.
Two exotic dancers from PT's strip clubs have filed a lawsuit accusing owners of cheating about 300 women out of their minimum wage and benefits -- and threatening to steal their table-dance tips if they complained about it.

Brandy Apple and Amanda Sheer, both Missouri residents, filed the class-action lawsuit last month demanding back pay and damages for the hundreds of strippers who've worked for VCG Holding Corp. -- which owns PT's Brooklyn, PT's Centreville, PT's Sports, the Penthouse Club and Roxy -- without a wage or benefits, some for more than ten years.

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East St. Louis Man Sues Crooked Ex-Cop, Claims Rape Confession Was Coerced

Marlon Miller, shown here in his mugshot after being charged for a rape he didn't commit.
A new lawsuit has cropped up in the aftermath of an overturned rape charge we reported on in June.

Exonerated by DNA evidence after almost four months in prison, Marlon Miller, 20, is now suing the ex-detective who allegedly coerced Miller's confession to the robbery and rape of a 33-year-old woman near the Emerson Park MetroLink station in January 2013.

The federal lawsuit alleges East St. Louis Police Department detective Orlando Ward took Miller out of sight of recording devices and "slapped [Miller] multiple times."

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Lawsuit Alleges Reverend Sexually Harassed Female Minister In St. Louis AME Church

Reverend Frederick McCullough
A former African Methodist Episcopal Church minister was hit with a lawsuit Wednesday over allegations of sexual harassment.

Filed in St. Louis Circuit Court, the suit alleges that Reverend Frederick McCullough brazenly harassed -- and nearly raped -- an associate female minister during the two years he headed the Wayman AME Church in St. Louis.

"The unspoken message for women and especially female preachers has been that we must either accept the sexual harassment...or risk being being expelled," said the plaintiff, Brenda Jones, in written statement. "I am fighting this because it has to stop."

The lawsuit alleges McCullough groped Jones on multiple occasions, forced her to look at a photo of his penis and told her that he liked older women and was "going to get [him] some of that pussy."

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Informant Who Solved Murder Sues For $250,000 Reward, Fears For His Life

Willie McNeil pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the 1999 killing of Mark Raiffie.
The brutal 1999 killing of Mark Raiffie went unsolved for over a decade before a Crime Stoppers tip led to an arrest. All it took, apparently, was the promise of a $250,000 reward from the victim's distraught father, a local businessman.

But the man who provided the information that led to the arrest says he hasn't gotten a penny from Seymore Raiffie, who offered the reward in the Post-Dispatch in 2008.

"He has received death threats," says the informant's lawyer, Timothy Smith, who tells Daily RFT that his client is staying anonymous out of fear for his life.

"He was expecting that if he came forward, like Mr. Raiffie asked for, that the financial assistance would be there and he would be able to make sure he was in a safe location," Smith says. "Unfortunately, after he came forward Mr. Raiffie did not."

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ACLU Sues City of Miner on Behalf of Homeless Couple Forced Out of Town with Fake Laws

Brandalyn Orchard and Edward Gillespie | Courtesy ACLU

Early this fall, Brandalyn Orchard and Edward Gillespie were on the road again. The couple, who are homeless, make their way around the state by hitchhiking and found themselves at an intersection near the outskirts of the tiny town of Miner (population 979). There, they took out a simple sign.

"Traveling. Anything helps. God Bless."

While hitchhikers and panhandlers are not a uncommon sight in many cities, the Miner police department apparently took exception. What happened next lead to a lawsuit filed on the couple's behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri.

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