Judge rules against Missouri gay marriage ban - KMOV.com

Judge rules against Missouri gay marriage ban

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By Daniel Fredman By Daniel Fredman

 KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A federal judge struck down Missouri's ban on same-sex marriage Friday, the second such ruling this week in a state that had been among the first of several to adopt a constitutional provision limiting marriage to only a man and a woman.

The ruling would allow gay weddings in Jackson County, which includes Kansas City, but U.S. District Judge Ortrie D. Smith delayed the effect of his decision pending an appeal from the state, which was announced immediately.
"We will appeal the ruling to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals," Attorney General Chris Koster wrote.
Smith's decision comes days after a lower state court judge in St. Louis issued a similar ruling, triggering St. Louis city and county to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Officials in most other counties, however, declined to follow suit. That ruling has been appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court.
In his ruling Friday, Smith wrote that Missouri's gay marriage ban violated same-sex couple's rights to due process and equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.
The court finds "no real reason for the State's decision to dictate that people of the same gender cannot be married," he wrote.
Lawyers for gay couples seeking the right to marry said the ruling should go into effect immediately across the state.
"Each recorder of deeds can begin complying with the constitution as it's been interpreted by a state judge and a federal judge now, or there can be more litigation" against each county, ACLU attorney Tony Rothert said.
Jackson County Recorder of Deeds Robert Kelly, who was the defendant in the lawsuit, declined comment.
The Human Rights Campaign, which supports same-sex marriage, said Ortrie's ruling is the first by a federal court against a gay marriage ban in the territory of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
It comes a day after a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned lower court rulings that had struck down gay marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. But several U.S. appeals courts in other regions of the country have ruled in recent months that states cannot ban gay marriage.
At least 30 states allow same-sex marriage, many prompted by a Supreme Court decision last month that turned back appeals from five states seeking to uphold bans.
Missouri's constitutional amendment barring gay marriage was approved by about 70 percent of voters in 2004, making the state the first to adopt a constitutional ban following a decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court permitting gay marriage.
Gov. Jay Nixon, speaking at an unrelated news conference in Kansas City, deferred to Koster, but said he expects gay marriage to eventually become legal across Missouri.
"The legal arc is clearly pointing that way," he said.
   Associated Press writer David A. Lieb in Jefferson City contributed to this report.


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