The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri on Monday released a statement in support of St. Louis' challenge to the state's gay marriage ban.

Last week, the city issued marriage licenses to four gay couples, defying the state's 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment defining marriage as a heterosexual union. The following day, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster sued the city.

(Related: St. Louis marries four gay couples to “force the issue” of marriage equality.)

Bishop George Wayne Smith said in a statement that he “supports St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and City Counselor Winston Calvert in their challenge to Missouri law prohibiting same-sex marriage.”

“Even as the Episcopal Church works to clarify our theological understanding of and pastoral practices around same-sex blessings, I believe that it is not the place of the State of Missouri to deny the privileges and responsibilities of marriage to anyone, basing that denial solely on the gender of the couple,” Smith said.

(Related: St. Louis Archdiocese says sex is reserved for marriage in condemning gay marriages.)