Almost one month following the City of St. Louis issuing marriage licenses to four same-sex couples, the community gathered at Just John nightclub in the Grove, July 14, in both celebration and for the creation of history. 


“We are here today to congratulate the four couples who were legally wed in Mayor Slay’s office and to sign the banners that read ‘Just Married’ that were carried in the 2014 St. Louis Pride Parade in front of a record-breaking 95,000 attendees,” said Todd Alan Villmer, Pride St. Louis Board member, in kicking off the ceremony.


After the event, the signed banners were donated to The St. Louis LGBT History Project and the Missouri History Museum.


All four of the celebrated St. Louis couples were in attendance: Mimo Davis and Miranda Duschack (together 4 years); Tod Martin and David Gray (together 22 years); Terry Garrett and Bruce Yampolsky (together 30 years); and Richard Eaton and John Durnell (together 39 years).


Also on hand was officiating Pastor, Rev. Wes Mullins; presiding Judge, Joe Murphy; former Recorder of Deeds, Sharon Carpenter and St. Louis Mayor, Francis G. Slay. 


“This is really something to celebrate in St. Louis,” said Mayor Slay.  “People have asked me if there have been any negative comments regarding [the same-sex marriages in St. Louis] – there have been very, very, very few; the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Because I represent a city that is progressive and cares about people, that embraces and celebrates diversity, this has been very easy for me to do.”signing1


“This is about who we are as a city,” Slay continued. “We have four newly married couples who have really put themselves out there to say ‘this is what we believe in, and this is what our city is all about.’  I’m very proud of each one of them.   We have couples here who love each other and care about each other and want to have their relationship recognized by the law.  I can’t think of anything more beautiful than that.”


As the Mayor concluded, he introduced Sharon Carpenter. The crowd went wild with applause.


“I count my blessings every day that I am able to be around to see the United States Constitution do what it’s supposed to do,” Carpenter said.  “To deny a right to an individual or any group is to deny my own right.  So, for me – it was personal.” 


“We in St. Louis are always a step ahead of history,” she continued. “There are no individuals and no groups to be singled out.  And for as many people who said they would stand behind me to make this happen, the Mayor said he was standing with me.  So once again, St. Louis is a city for everyone and there shall be no discrimination here.”signing2


Same-sex marriage is currently not recognized in Missouri due to a Constitutional Amendment passed by over 70 percent of Missouri voters in August 2004. (The ballot measure restricted the validity and recognition of marriage as only between one man and one woman.)  St. Louis is one of seven jurisdictions in Missouri that provide domestic partnership registries (also Clayton, Columbia, Jackson County, Kansas City, Olivette and University City).  There are currently two additional challenges to Missouri’s stance on marriage filed by the ACLU in state circuit court – Barrier v. Vasterline, set for summary judgment on September 25, 2014 and Lawson v. Kelly, filed on June 24, 2014.  


Prior to the autographing of the signs, Steve Brawley, founder of the St. Louis LGBT History Project made the following remarks: “…[S]ometimes an artifact can be 200 years old and sometimes it can only be a month old.  The sign will be autographed by the couples and will be in the permanent collection at the Missouri History Museum, one of the St. Louis LGBT History Project partners, and hopefully over the next several years will be part of a major LGBT history exhibit at the Missouri History Museum.”


#Boom had a chance to follow-up with Mayor Slay regarding the effects of the St. Louis same-sex marriages:


“I can't speculate on how it's all going to proceed out from a legal procedure standpoint,” said Slay. “I will tell you, though, our case is - it really gets right to the core of the issue. We're challenging directly the Missouri Constitutional Amendment which bans gay marriages, bans marriages between same-sex couples. We're going to get a result, ultimately, and I believe it's going to be positive. It's going to be one we're looking for and that is having the Federal Constitution trump the Missouri Constitution and find the Missouri Constitutional provision a violation of federal law and therefore invalid and anyone in Missouri can get married regardless of sexual orientation and regardless of who you choose to love. I think that's what we're looking for in the result.


“What's happening in the western part of the state as far as recognition of same-sex couples married in other states - that's a different issue, although it doesn't go directly to the heart of what we're talking about here,” Slay continued. “But that will have an indication of what local courts are going to do. And of course, ultimately, this may be decided by the Supreme Court of the United States. So it will be interesting to look at how these cases play out in the courts. Normally these things don't happen overnight. I would expect we may not get a resolution this year - hopefully by early next year. I'm really excited about the opportunity here and the possibilities and I believe the people will prevail and I think that's good for us and what we want to accomplish.”



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