Judge to hear challenge to Missouri's gay marriage ban Thursday

Mon. September 22, 2014 12:20 PM by OnTopMag.com

A judge in Jackson County on Thursday will hear arguments in a case challenging Missouri's ban on gay marriage.

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.

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