Marriage Equality USA

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State of Missouri
All in this Region

Current Status

  • Civil marriage equality cannot legally be denied at the state level, via the Supreme Court of the United States, as of 26 June 2015. (Same-sex couples have the legal right to marry.)
  • On 26 June 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled FOR marriage equality and that same-gender couples have the constitutional right to marry in all 50 states and all U.S. territories.
  • 7 November 2014, U.S. District Judge Ortrie D. Smith struck down the Missouri state marriage ban! See Lawson v. Kelly under LAWSUITS-PENDING below.
  • 1 marriage case in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals; 1 case in the Supreme Court of Missouri; and, 2 cases in state trial court. See LAWSUITS-PENDING below.
  • Both Governor Jay Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster have publicly announced their personal support for marriage equality.

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

  • Following the death in 2009 of Cpl. Dennis Engelhard of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, his partner of 15 years, Kelly Glossip, sued the state for survivor benefits. After the trial court dismissed his suit, Glossip appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court. Amicus briefs filed by several Missouri law professors, the mayor of St. Louis, and several state legislators argued that the state's denial of benefits discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation and should be reviewed using the heightened scrutiny standard. The court heard arguments in the appeal in February 2013, and ruled against Glossip in October 2013, saying his claim was denied on the basis of his marital status, not his sexual orientation.
  • Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage from 2004 until 2014, per Constitutional Amendment 2.

Legislation - Pending

None.

Legislation - Enacted

None.

Lawsuits - Pending

Mooneyham v. Ozark Fire Protection District

Case #: 6:14-cv-3496
Court Level: Federal District Court
Date Filed: 24 November 2014
Date of Appeal: 

Description:

  • 24 November 2014, the Missouri chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union announced that it is suing the district for denying spousal benefits. The ACLU sent a letter to the fire district last month explaining its view on the district's requirement to offer benefits. A suit was filed in federal court today arguing for the benefits to be offered. The ACLU referenced an October decision in Jackson County that said the state must recognize same-sex marriages."After the court's decision in Barrier v. Vasterling, Missouri law no longer allows government entities to ignore marriages," said Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. "Captain (Andi) Mooneyham puts her life on the line at work and should receive the same benefits to other married firefighters and their families."
  • 2 December 2014, plaintiff filed a Motion for preliminary injunction and brief in support of the motion.
  • 6 January 2015, the Ozark Fire Protection District (defendant) filed its Answer to the Complaint.
  • 7 January 2015, the defendants filed their Opposition to Preliminary Injunction.
State of Missouri v. Jennifer Florida (formerly Missouri v. Carpenter aka Koster v. City of St. Louis)

Case #: 1422-CC09027
Court Level: State Trial Court
Date Filed: 26 June 2014
Date of Appeal: 5 November 2014

Description:

  • 26 June 2014, after 10th Circuit rulings in marriage equality cases in two other states, the City of St. Louis challenged the MO ban on marriage equality by issuing marriage licenses to four same-sex couples. That same day the state Attorney General filed suit to block further issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
  • The Attorney General filed a motion for a Temporary Restraining Order, but after the City stated that it would cease issuance of further marriage licenses, the court denied the TRO.
  • A status hearing was set for 11 August 2014.
  • 29 September 2014, a hearing was held before St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison. 
  • 5 November 2014, Circuit Judge Rex M. Burlison found the Missouri ban on marriage equality to be unconstitutional, and that " that Defendant and any future Recorder of Deeds and Vital Records Registrar of the City of St. Louis has the authority to issue marriage licenses to any same sex couple that satisfies all the requirements for marriage under Missouri law, other than being of different sexes."
  • 5 November 2014,  MO AG Chris Koster announced that he has appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court, but that he will NOT seek a stay.
Barrier v. Vasterling 

Case #: 1416-CV03892
Court Level: State Trial Court
Date Filed: 12 February 2014
Date of Appeal:

Description:

  • The ACLU filed a MO state lawsuit for 8 couples challenging the 2004 ban on recognizing same-gender civil marriages legally performed elsewhere. (Further info on the case and the plaintiffs.)
  • 23 April 2014, a Motion For Summary Judgment was filed.
  • 25 April 2014, defendant filed a motion to change venue (transfer the case).
  • 9 May 2014, petitioner filed a motion to file an amended petition, which was granted on 21 May 2014.
  • 30 May 2014, plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment. Argument is scheduled for 25 September 2014 before Judge J. Dale Youngs in Kansas City, Missouri.
  • 2 June 2014, defendant city answered the amended petition.
  • 10 June 2014, the court denied the motion for change of venue.
  • 25 September 2014, oral arguments took place before Judge J. Dale Youngs.
  • 3 October 2014, Judge Youngs ruled that Missouri must recognize legal same-sex marriages that were performed elsewhere. An injunction staying this decision is currently in place. 
  • 6 October 2014, following the SCOTUS orders (pgs. 39 & 40) issued earlier this day regarding the 7 marriage equality cases that had petitioned the high court for review, the MO AG posted a public statement that he will not appeal the state court decision in Barrier v. Vasterling requiring the state to recognize marriages performed in other jurisdictions. "Missouri's future will be one of inclusion, not exclusion."
  • 26 November 2014, the State of Missouri General Assembly filed a Motion to Intervene.
  • 5 December 2014, the General Assembly filed a Notice of Appeal.
  • 5 December 2014, the plaintiffs filed their Opposition to the GA's Motion to Intervene.
  • 5 December 2014, the defendant City of Kansas City also filed an Opposition to the Intervention.
  • 9 December 2014, the Court denied the motion to intervene based on lack of jurisdiction. 
Kerry Messer, et al. v. MO Governor Jeremiah Nixon, et al.

Case #: 14AC-CC00009
Court Level: State Trial Court
Date Filed: 9 January 2014
Date of Appeal:

Description:

  • The MO Family Baptist Convention Christian Life Commission and the MO Family Policy Council sued to stop MO from accepting tax returns from same-gender couples with legal civil marriages who file joint federal and MO returns, because the plaintiffs claim that they are already suffering “immediate and irreparable damage.”
  • 9 January 2014, a Petition for Declaratory Judgment was filed.
  • 7 February 2014, amended motion/petition filed.
  • 26 March 2014, motion filed for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.
  • 3 April 2014, hearing held. and
  • 4 April 2014, TRO denied.
  • 4 June 2014, hearing on PROMO’s motion to intervene held.
  • 9 June 2014, order filed denying intervention, but leaving open alternative motion or amicus possibility. Further hearing was scheduled for 27 June 2014.
  • Next hearing was scheduled for 20 August 2014.
In re Marriage of M.S. and D.S.

Case #:
Court Level: Missouri Supreme Court
Date Filed:
Date of Appeal: 13 March 2014

Description:

  • Divorce action filed by couple married in Iowa.
  • Dismissed in trial court.
  • Direct appeal to Missouri Supreme Court filed on 13 March 2014.
  • The ACLU of Missouri has filed an amicus brief.
  • 3 December 2014, Missouri Supreme Court hears arguments over gay divorce - By Rudi Keller, Columbia Daily Tribune
  • Additional information about the case, including briefs filed and an archive of the audio when complete, is available here: http://on.mo.gov/1rSQBvB
  • 10 February 2015, in this case, the trial court had dismissed the divorce petition for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In today's opinion, the Missouri Supreme Court says the lower court does have authority to hear the case and returns it to the lower court (on purely procedural grounds) for further proceedings, without reaching the underlying issues.
    "The sole issue before this Court is whether the circuit court had subject matter jurisdiction. ... Assuming for the sake of argument only that the circuit court lacked constitutional or statutory authority to grant the requested relief, the court would still have subject matter jurisdiction to dispose of the petition by denying the requested relief. While the circuit court had subject matter jurisdiction over this civil case, this Court expresses no opinion as to the merits of any aspect of this case, including the constitutional or statutory authority of the circuit court to dissolve a same-sex marriage. The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded."

Lawsuits - Resolved

Lawson v. Kelly

Case #: 14-3779 (8th Circuit); 4:2014cv00622 (Federal District Court);1416-CV15024 (state court)
Court Level: 8th Circuit Court of Appeals - On Hold
Date Filed: 24 June 2014
Date of Ruling: 1 July 2015

Description:

  • 24 June 2014, a suit filed by the ACLU on behalf of two same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses.
  • The lawsuit contends Missouri's constitutional provision limiting marriage to one man and one woman violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Assigned to Judge Edith Messina in Kansas City, Missouri.
  • 30 June 2014, Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders said he won't spend taxpayer money to defend the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.
  • 15 July 2014, moved to the Missouri Western District Court (Federal Court).
  • 29 August 2014, the state filed their opposition to the plaintiffs' motion to remand the case back to state court. 
  • 15 September 2014, the plaintiffs filed a Motion for Permanent Injunction (summary judgement). 
  • 9 October 2014, the plaintiffs filed a Motion to file surreply (with proposed surreply attached). 
  • 10 October 2014, the judge clarified the Missouri Family Policy Council's (lack of) status in the case and granted the plaintiffs motion to file a surreply.
  • 21 October 2014, the state filed their Opposition to summary judgment.
  • 22 October 2014, the plaintiffs filed their Reply in support of summary judgment.
  • 22 October 2014, the plaintiffs withdrew their request for oral argument and request for ruling on the written submissions (granted 29 October 2014). NOTE: The request to withdraw the oral argument request has a brief summation of the case history and pending motions.
  • 7 November 2014, U.S. District Judge Ortrie D. Smith struck down the Missouri state marriage ban! The ruling is stayed until all appeals are concluded.
  • 7 November 2014, AG Chris Koster said he will appeal to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • 18 November 2014, the plaintiffs filed a Motion for attorney's fees and expenses and a memo in support of the motion. A Bill of Costs was included.
  • 21 November 2014, the plaintiffs filed a Motion to Lift Stay. Defendant Robert Kelly, Director of Jackson County Dept. of Recorder of Deeds, didn't object and Intervenor State of Missouri took no position.
  • 5 December 2014, Defendant-Intervenor State of Missouri filed a notice of appeal to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • 5 December 2014, the State of Missouri filed their Opposition to motion for attorneys' fees and expenses.
  • 8 December 2014, the plaintiffs filed their Reply in support of fees and expenses.
  • 8 December 2014, U.S. District Senior Judge Ortrie D. Smith awarded the plaintiffs approximately $32K in attorney fees and costs.
  • 9 December 2014, plaintiffs filed notice of cross-appeal as to Count II, equal protection based on sexual orientation. As a reminder, the decision on this part of the claim, based on 8th Circuit precedent Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning: "However, there is one aspect of Bruning that relates to the issues in this case. As noted above, Bruning holds that sexual orientation is not a suspect class and that classifications based on sexual orientation are not subject to heightened review of any kind. This directly impacts Count II, and requires the Court to uphold section 451.022 and Article I, section 33 if they are rationally related to a legitimate governmental interest, keeping in mind that such provisions enjoy a strong presumption of validity. In applying this standard, the Bruning court clearly expressed its belief that laws prohibiting same-sex marriage would pass rational basis review. 455 F.3d at 867-68. On this basis, the Court grants the State judgment on the pleadings with respect to Count II."
  • 10 December 2014, the plaintiffs filed a motion to vacate the stay or, in the alternate, expedite the appeal.
  • 10 December 2014, in the notice to attorneys on docketing the appeal, the Court indicates responses to the motion are due in 14 days. 
  • 20 December 2014, the plaintiffs submitted a letter to the 8th Circuit informing the Court of the Supreme Court order denying the Florida stay (Brenner/Grimsley) as it relates to their request to lift the stay in Missouri.
  • 24 December 2014, Missouri filed its Response to motion to lift stay and/or expedite appeal. While the state concludes the response with a request that the Court deny the motion, all of the arguments are in opposition to an expedited schedule; there is no discussion at all as to lifting the stay.
  • 9 January 2015, the ACLU filed a letter to the 8th Circuit as to Plaintiffs' pending motion. "In light of the Supreme Court’s inaction on the pending petitions for writs of certiorari, Appellees/Cross-Appellants respectfully request a prompt ruling on their motion to vacate stay or, in the alternate, expedite appeal."
    "[W]hile the motion to expedite appeal has been considered, Jernigan v. McDaniel, No. 15-1022, a similar case arising out of Arkansas, has already received a briefing schedule in this Court. Whether or not the Supreme Court ultimately grants certiorari in another case, there is no equitable reason to hold the current case in perpetual limbo."
  • 21 January 2015, the State of Missouri moved to Stay all proceedings, including briefing, until "30 days following resolution of the identical issues before the United States Supreme Court."
  • 21 January 2015, the plaintiffs filed their Response to the motion to stay -  they oppose staying the case unless the November 7th stay of the district court's 7 November 2014 judgment is lifted.
  • 22 January 2015, the Court denied the plaintiffs' request to lift the stay of the district court judgment, and also denied the state's request to put the appeal on hold. The court set the briefing schedule with the Opening brief due 17 February 2015, and briefing to be complete by early April 2015.
  • 3 February 2015, In a docket text order, the 8th Circuit:
    - Granted the motion to expedite the South Dakota appeal and set a briefing schedule
    - Indicated its intention to set oral arguments in RosenbrahnJernigan, and Lawson for the week of 11-15 May 2015.
    "CLERK ORDER: [4240177-2] [4240177-3] [4240658] [15-1186] The parties' joint motion to expedite this appeal is granted. The parties shall observe the briefing schedule set forth at paragraph 11 of the motion: Appellant's brief, addendum, and appendix due February 27, 2015; Appellees' brief and addendum due March 19, 2015; Appellant's reply brief due April 2, 2015. It is the court's intention to set the three same-sex marriage cases (No. 14-3779 Lawson v. State of Missouri; No. 15-1022 Jernigan v. McDaniel; and No. 15-1186 Rosenbrahn v. Daugaard) for oral argument during the week of May 11-15, 2015 in Omaha, NE. The parties will be advised of the date and time of the arguments when the May calendar is established."
  • 9 February 2015, the plaintiffs filed a second motion to lift the stay, citing the U.S. Supreme Court's order today denying the stay in Alabama.
  • 18 February 2015, the State filed its Opening Brief with the 8th Circuit.
  • 19 March 2015, the Court denied the plaintiffs' motion to lift the stay. "Consistent with the status of the other cases set for argument on May 12, 2015, the second motion to vacate stay is denied."
  • 23 March 2015, the plaintiffs' filed their second brief in the appeal/cross-appeal briefing schedule and is a combined (1) response brief in the state's appeal, and (2) opening brief in the plaintiffs' cross-appeal on the claim they lost in district court (equal protection based on sexual orientation).
  • 8th Circuit Calendar for May 11-15, 2015: 8th Circuit marriage cases listed on page 3.
  • 29 April 2015, the Court, of its own accord, put the 8th Circuit oral arguments and all further proceedings on hold until SCOTUS rules in the marriage cases.
  • 1 July 2015, the 8th Circuit dismissed the appeals, per parties' request, and issued Judgment and Mandate.
  • 2 July 2015, the district court lifted its stay, EFFECTIVE 5pm local time today.
  • 15 July 2015, the plaintiffs filed a Motion for Attorney Fees on Appeal.
  • 24 July 2015, the Court issued an Order Granting Attorney Fees in the amount of $27,883.50.
Kelly Glossip v. MO Highway Patrol

Case #: SC92583
Date Filed: 2 December 2010
Ruling Date: 29 October 2013

Description:

  • Missouri State Trooper Dennis Engelhard died in the line of duty on Christmas Day 2009. The Missouri Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol Employees’ Retirement System (MPERS) provides an annuity payment to surviving spouses, but specifically excludes the partners of lesbian and gay officers from this benefit.
  • The ACLU filed suit in the Missouri Circuit Court of Cole County on behalf of Glossip to challenge MPERS’ denial of survivor benefits.
  • 12 April 2012, the trial court grants MPERS’ motion to dismiss the suit.
  • 12 April 2012, the ACLU filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of Missouri.
  • 29 October 2013, the Supreme Court en banc ruled against Mr. Glossip, issuing an opinion affirming the lower court’s ruling because Glossip and Engelhard were a same-sex couple and therefore not married.

Ballot Initiatives - Pending

None.

Ballot Initiatives - Passed

None.

Polls

  • Poll results released by Public Policy Polling in June 2012 showed that Missouri voters were warming up to the idea of marriage rights for gay couples. 64% of voters believed gay couples should either be allowed to marry or form civil unions, up from 60% in January 2012. Poll Details