Missouri’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban Is Unconstitutional, Federal Judge Rules

A second ruling in the state this week. [Update: Same-sex couples are marrying Friday in Jackson County, Missouri.]

WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Friday declared Missouri’s ban on same-sex couples’ marriages unconstitutional, echoing a state court’s conclusion earlier this week.

U.S. District Court Judge Ortrie Smith, a 1995 appointee of President Clinton, ruled that the ban violates the fundamental right to marriage and violates equal protection because it discriminates on the basis of sex.

Notably, Smith did not decide the case on the basis of sexual orientation discrimination, finding that a prior decision of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals — in which appeals from federal courts in Missouri are heard — limited sexual orientation-based claims.

The decision orders the director of the Jackson County Department of Recorder of Deeds to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Earlier this week, a state court judge ruled that Missouri officials couldn’t stop St. Louis officials from allowing same-sex couples to marry.


Missouri’s attorney general announced he will appeal Friday’s ruling.


Jackson County, Missouri, announced it would begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Friday afternoon.

First couple married in Jackson County Missouri! #ShowMeMarriage

— PROMO Missouri (@PROMOMissouri)

Read the opinion:

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Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.
Contact Chris Geidner at chris.geidner@buzzfeed.com.
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