Gay marriage has become a reality after decades of struggles, but the victory isn’t yet final. Opponents of gay marriage in some states are still trying to prevent it, which is why a lot of people are wondering: is gay marriage legal in Missouri? The legal battle for gay marriage has been a long one, and it is not over, even though it may seem otherwise.
It took 11 years for same-sex marriage to become legalized in all 50 states and Washington, DC. Plus, it has been legalized in over 20 other countries around the world. The process was not an easy one, and it took a lot of strength and determination for pro-LGBT organizations to challenge the existing laws and fight for LGBT rights.
The subject of same-sex marriage is very important due to its significant political, social, and economic ramifications. That is why there is still such a strong resistance among certain groups who are currently trying to find legal ways to prevent gay marriage, even though it is now legal all across the United States.
How same-sex marriage became legal in the U.S.
Although it took 11 years for gay marriage to gradually become recognized and legalized in all 50 states plus Washington, DC, the legal history of gay marriage is actually much longer. LGBT people had to face numerous rejections, bans, law-suits, and legal challenges, in order to eventually be allowed to marry and enjoy the same rights as heterosexual married couples.
It was back in the seventies when a same-sex couple first applied for a marriage license, and, as a result of them being denied, the case went to the state Supreme Court. However, Maryland, not Minnesota, turned out to be the first state that banned same-sex marriage. Throughout the eighties, it became more and more apparent that LGBT marriage was a hot topic.
More and more members of the LGBT community began to claim their rights when it came to partnerships, rights that had simply been refused to them for so many decades. The state of Hawaii played an important part in the long process of legalizing gay marriage. In 1993, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriages.
In 1997, Hawaii was also the first state where gay couples were granted domestic partnership benefits, even though same-sex marriage was still banned. Gay marriage becomes legal for the first time in 2004 in Massachusetts. For the first time, through a decision of the Supreme Court, legal gay marriage had become a reality, and the public opinion had to face this reality.
Until that moment, for over a decade, bans had been enacted on gay marriage in various states, which led to extensive legal debates among supporters and opponents. This is where pro-LGBT organizations played a crucial part by challenging bans as unconstitutional and leading the legal battles.
Throughout the 2000s, several states legalized gay marriage, but not without ups and downs. For example, in 2009, same-sex marriage had been legalized in Maine, but voters would later repeal that law. It was, therefore, a long and convoluted process, and the states that did end up legalizing gay marriage were not that many.
Finally, in 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court made gay marriage legal in all 50 states. By striking down bans on same-sex marriages, the U.S. Supreme Court brought marriage equality to this country. Justice Anthony Kennedy ruled that a federal ban would discriminate against gay couples because it prevented them from enjoying equal rights as far as Social Security, taxes, housing, and many other aspects were concerned.
The importance of same-sex marriage
The main legal debate concerning gay marriage revolved around the concept of marriage and whether its interpretation can change. While the opponents of gay marriage argue that traditional marriage is linked to heterosexual couples and that this is how it should stay, the historical truth is that the concept of marriage has changed significantly in the past centuries.
Romantic marriage that is the norm today was non-existent in the 18th and even 19th centuries when arranged marriages were the norm. Later, in the 20th century, interracial marriage was banned until a decision of the Supreme Court declared this ban to be unconstitutional. Therefore, what we take for granted today was actually the result of a legal battle.
These major changes show that the definition of marriage is not as narrow as some groups want to believe. This institution has changed throughout the course of history, and it will undoubtedly change again in the future. What is certain is that all American citizens have the right to enjoy the same benefits when it comes to legal partnerships.
One of the main benefits of legal marriage has to do with mental health, which is such a huge topic that affects members of the LGBT community. Studies have shown that marriage has significant health benefits. Therefore, any minority that is excluded from the possibility of getting married has an increased chance of poor health.
The authors of a study regarding legal gay marriage concluded that marriage should be seen as a matter of public health since LGBT people who are in a legally recognized marriage have much better health than those who are not. Plus, LGBT people who were living in areas where gay marriage was banned had significantly higher rates of mood and anxiety disorders.
As far as the argument that gay marriage should be banned because children raised in same-sex families would not thrive, several studies have shown that there are no measurable differences between children raised by same-sex or heterosexual parents. In 2005, the American Psychological Association clearly stated that the kids of same-sex parents were in no way negatively impacted.
Other benefits of legal gay marriage are related to taxes, insurance, and medical rights. For example, a married couple has the right to file taxes jointly, which is beneficial for couples in which only one of the partners is working. Also, if one of the partners dies, the other one has the right to inherit their estate without extra taxes.
Marriage is also important when it comes to employment because most employers offer family benefits. The same goes for health insurance plans, with family rates available for married couples. Another important aspect is that married partners have the right to make medical decisions for their spouse.
This means that, in the case of a medical emergency where one of the partners is incapacitated, the spouse has the right to make an important medical decision and also has the right to legally take care of their partner, if this is the case. The same rights apply to final arrangements for the spouse in case of death.
These are just a few of the numerous legal, social, and financial benefits of legal marriage that have not been accessible to LGBT people for so many decades. Overall, the legal access to these fundamental civil rights allows same-sex partners to develop and live a fulfilling life in today’s society.
Same-sex marriage in Missouri
Missouri was one of the states that had a Constitutional Amendment in place that outlawed same-sex marriage. This marriage ban was invalidated in 2015, by the U.S. Supreme Court, together with all the other gay marriage bans that were in place in other states, at the time of the ruling.
Missouri’s ban on gay marriage was ruled unconstitutional in November 2014, by a state judge in St. Louis. The Attorney General Chris Koster planned to appeal the ruling. However, St. Louis began to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, and St. Louis County followed the next day. A few days later, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that Missouri’s ban was unconstitutional.
The bans on same-sex marriage in Arkansas and Mississippi were ruled unconstitutional later that same month. In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court would rule that, under the Fourteenth Amendment, states have the obligation to license marriages between people of the same sex and also to recognize legal same-sex marriages that are performed out-of-state.
Since 2015, same-sex marriage has been legal in the state of Missouri. This means that couples between members of the LGBT community enjoy the same rights, the same legal protection, as well as the same legal responsibilities, as heterosexual couples, in the state of Missouri.
In order to become legally married, same-sex partners need to follow certain requirements, as stated by law. Both partners need to be at least 18 years old in order to get married. Also, they cannot be related by blood and cannot be already married. The parties need to apply for a marriage license and make sure that they pick it up prior to the actual marriage ceremony.
The person that is performing the marriage ceremony needs to have the marriage license before the ceremony and then, after the ceremony has been completed, return it to the Recorder of Deeds within 15 days. If the ceremony did not take place, the license becomes void after 30 days.