Column: A step in the right direction
Missouri still has a long way to go when it comes to same-sex marriage.
Oct. 07, 2014
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
Last week marked an important advancement in equality for same-sex couples in Missouri: A court ruled the state’s refusal to recognize legal same-sex marriages performed out of state was unconstitutional. The question of how constitutional it was for these cases to even be tried in court, however, still remains.
Jackson County Circuit Judge J. Dale Youngs struck down a same-sex marriage recognition ban Oct. 3 in Kansas City. He ruled the ban unconstitutional, and the state of Missouri must now recognize same-sex marriages that are legally performed elsewhere.
This came from the court case of Barrier vs. Vasterling that was filed in February of this year by ten same-sex couples who were legally married outside of Missouri. The Associated Press reports Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, who has defended the ban of same-sex marriage, is reviewing the ruling.
This is an incredible step forward in securing same-sex marriage equality. This ruling will affect at least 5,400 same-sex couples in Missouri, according to the St. Louis Dispatch. The Associated Press reports that these couples will now be able to file for tax benefits, health insurance, veterans benefits and more through the government.
Although Missouri has not overturned Constitutional Amendment 2, which excludes same-sex couples from marriage, this ruling has the potential to lead to more progressive social change when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues. This can be an example to other same-sex couples in Missouri that the state legislation regarding same-sex marriage is no longer pertinent and needs to be overruled.
The Associated Press has stated that there are two other court cases in Missouri challenging legislation of same-sex marriage; a federal challenge in Kansas City, and a case in St. Louis that deals with city officials issuing marriage licenses to four same-sex couples in order to trigger a legal test of the ban. Perhaps this most recent court case, of which the ruling was the first of its kind in the state, will propel the other judges to rule in the same favor.
As good as these court cases and rulings seem, the fact remains that these cases should not even be widely disputed in court. The federal court should have dismissed the ban of the recognition of same-sex marriages as unconstitutional when it was first enacted.
The way in which the American government is supposed to handle the issue of same-sex marriage comes down to the Constitution. Same-sex marriage is a reserved power, which means as the issue was not brought up in the Constitution to be dealt with by the federal government, states are allowed to enact their own legislation for the matter. Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. According to the Full Faith and Credit Clause, which states that individual states’ laws have to be honored by other states, every other state in the U.S. should have legally recognized same-sex marriages taking place in Massachusetts. Therefore, states that do not recognize same-sex marriages in other states are unconstitutional.
Missouri has come a long way from Constitutional Amendment 2, enacted ten years ago. The state is beginning to recognize their errors. This case will be added to the stack of other state cases with similar rulings that are leading to the mounting pressure placed on the federal government to enact constitutional same-sex marriage laws. Hopefully, one day, couples can get married without first having to fight for their rights in court.