The U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 26 that same-sex couples can marry nationwide. Does this mean that Missouri’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is automatically null?
- Yes! In 2004, Missouri voters passed an amendment to its state constitution defining marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman. This amendment has been preventing same-sex couples from legally marrying in Missouri for the last 11 years. After the Supreme Court ruling, this amendment will be wiped off of the books.
Can same-sex couples get married right away?
- Yes! Certain counties in Missouri (such as St. Louis City and St. Louis County) were prepared to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately. Other counties needed a little bit of time to respond to the ruling (updating paperwork to say “Spouse 1 and Spouse 2” instead of “Husband and Wife,” for example). Every day, more and more counties are beginning to issue marriage licenses and we are hopeful that soon every county in the state will be “open” for marriage equality.
Does this also mean that couples married out of state will now have their marriages recognized by Missouri?
- Yes! Any same-sex marriage legally performed in another state will be recognized by Missouri.
What will this mean for employers? Will they have to provide benefits to same-sex spouses?
- Same-sex couples in legal marriages will need to be treated just like any couple, so if a company offers benefits to the spouse of any employee, that company will now have to offer benefits to the same-sex spouse of an employee.
What else do we need to know about how this decision will impact the people of Missouri?
- Many people are surprised to learn that Missouri is one of 29 states where it is still legal for an employer to fire an employee based on the employee’s sexual orientation. Following the question about benefits above, employees may be hesitant to “out” themselves by adding their spouse as a dependent for benefits purposes, and risk retaliation. Even though marriage equality was a huge victory, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure full equality and nondiscrimination protections for LGBT individuals. Advocates are working hard to advance statewide nondiscrimination protections here in Missouri and there is potential for federal nondiscrimination legislation as well.