Yesterday’s action in Colorado by the Boulder County Clerk was copied late yesterday afternoon in Missouri, as four gay couples married in the office of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.
St. Louis is mounting the first direct challenge of the state ban. The city, which operates as an independent municipality, also performs county functions. The four marriage licenses were signed by an emotional and misty-eyed Recorder of Deeds Sharon Quigley Carpenter, and four wedding ceremonies were held in Slay’s office as the smiling mayor snapped cellphone pictures of the couples. Two men who were married Wednesday have been in a committed relationship for 39 years. “It makes me proud as a citizen and as a mayor,” Slay said.
But the echo of champagne corks popping in the mayor’s office will likely be silenced today with the thud of legal documents as officials get down to less-celebratory business. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, who is charged to enforce the state’s constitution, is expected to sue the city, starting what will likely be a long legal battle.
Even with the official marriage documents from the city, the validity of the couples’ unions will be in question. Missouri’s constitution recognizes only marriage between a man and woman and bars county recorders from issuing licenses to same-sex couples. “But, make no mistake about it,” said Slay, “I, and all of us standing here, are doing this to force the issue and to get the law settled for everyone who wants to get married in the state of Missouri.”
NOTE: Missouri is under the jurisdiction of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Colorado is part of the Tenth Circuit.
(Tipped by JMG reader Tim)