ST. LOUIS, MO – A challenge to Missouri's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was brought by St. Louis city officials after issuing marriage licenses to four same-sex couples last night.


State Attorney General Chris Koster filed a lawsuit this morning to stop the issuance of further marriage licenses arguing that city officials do not have the right to ignore state law. Koster, a Democrat, said while he personally supports marriage equality he will defend the ban.  


According the St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, the city has agreed not to issue more marriage licenses to same-sex couples until the matter is resolved and has pledged to fight the state’s marriage ban all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.


The four couples were married Wednesday in the office of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay in a ceremony presided over by a municipal judge and affirming clergy. Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter then issued the couples, all St. Louis residents, their marriage licenses.


“It is our belief that the U.S. Constitution requires the recognition of same-sex marriages,” said Slay at a press conference this morning. “And Missouri law requires a Recorder of Deeds to issue a marriage license to any couple who is “legally entitled” to such a license. We have created a clear, direct legal challenge to Missouri’s unconstitutional ban on marriage equality. We hope to get this before the courts to settle this issue on behalf of all gay and lesbian couples in our state.”


St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison will soon hear arguments on whether to grant an injunction against the same-sex marriages.


“I strongly commend the courage of the couples, some of whom I have known for years; others of whom I have met only recently,” said Slay. "They will face scrutiny of the intolerant, support by the love and respect of most fair-minded people. I wish them every happiness, and I pledge the full resources of my office to affirm the solemn contracts they have made to each other.”


Richard Eaton and John Durnell, together for 39 years, were the first couple to be married. Tod Martin and David Gray (together 23 years); Miranda Duschack and Karen “Mimo” Davis (together 4 years); and Bruce Yampolsky and Terry Garrett (together 30 years) were then married one by one in Room 200.


“It was big for me because of us,” said Davis. “And historically, I want to wake up one day and know I was on the right side – that when I was given a torch that comes from the beginning of my brothers and sisters from Stonewall, and from Matthew Shepard – that when that torch was passed I had an opportunity to pick up that torch. We took it and we ran with it.”


Missouri’s Amendment 2, which defines marriage in Missouri as between one man and one woman, was approved by 71 percent of voters in August 2004. 



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