The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri has filed a lawsuit to defend same-sex marriage rights in the State. Eight same-sex couples who were married outside of Missouri are claiming the same privileges as opposite-sex couples in a lawsuit against the state.
The ACLU introduced one of the couples during a press conference at the Capitol this Wednesday highlighting the issue. JoDe and Lisa Layton-Brinker have been together for 6 years and were married in Iowa in 2010. Currently, Missouri marriage laws deny legal recognition of same-sex marriages and exclude them from most state and federal protections available to married couples.
ACLU Attorney Grant Doty said this case is not just about recognizing the unions of same-sex couples.
“The bottom-line is, this is about Missouri law," Doty said. "It’s about our state recognizing some marriages and not recognizing others. It’s about Missouri being on the right side of history or the wrong side. And our view is Missouri can make this right.”
Lisa Layton-Brinker is a firefighter, and with the current law, her wife JoDe and the rest of her family would not receive any benefits if something happened to Lisa in the line of duty.
And if Lisa gets hospitalized, she hopes JoDe could visit her without the paperwork to prove that they are married in Iowa.
“You know, it’s exciting, to think that, you know, every time something happens, we don’t have to worry about having the paperwork to say that we are married," Lisa said.
Representatives from the Missouri LGBT rights advocacy group PROMO were also present at the press conference. The group is not officially part of the lawsuit but Executive Director A.J. Bockelman said he is excited to see this case go forward.
“And we want to see justice under the law for those couples, so they can plan for sharing property, care for their loved ones if they have children, being able to prepare in case of a untimely death of a parent, all of those different types of situation that marriage law governs,” Bockelman said.
Doty said he hopes to get a judgment within a year. Missouri’s Constitutional Amendment on marriage was adopted in 2004.