A judge in Jackson County on Thursday
will hear arguments in a case challenging Missouri's ban on gay
Plaintiffs in the case are ten gay and
lesbian couples who married in other states but now live in Missouri
and want the state to recognize their marriages. The couples are
represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri,
which filed the lawsuit in February.
“Our courts and our society have
discarded, one by one, marriage laws that violated the Constitution's
mandate of equality, such as anti-miscegenation laws and laws that
denied married women legal independence and the right to make
decisions for themselves,” Tony Rothert, legal director at the ACLU
of Missouri, told ABC
affiliate KSPR. “History has taught us that the vitality of
marriage does not depend on maintaining such discriminatory laws. To
the contrary, eliminating these unconstitutional restraints on the
freedom to marry has enhanced the institution.”
Plaintiff couple Becky and Jennifer
Stevens married last year in Hawaii.
Jennifer Stevens said marriage equality
“doesn't mean the end of heterosexual marriage in this country.”
Voters in 2004 overwhelmingly (71%)
approved Amendment 2, which prohibits same-sex marriages from being
performed or recognized in Missouri.