A judge in Missouri struck down the state's ban on recognising same-sex marriages performed outside the state, but did not strike down the ban on same-sex marriages performed within the state.

Jackson County Circuit Judge J. Dale Youngs ruled that the plaintiffs' rights to equal protection and due process are currently being violated by the part of the Missouri ban on same-sex marriage that pertains to recognising same-sex unions performed in other states, according to the Associated Press. Specifically, Youngs found that the distinction drawn by the ban "made no logical sense" and was therefore unconstitutional.

The undisputed facts before the Court show that, to the extent these laws prohibit plaintiffs' legally contracted marriages from other states being recognized here, they are wholly irrational, do not rest upon any reasonable basis, and are purely arbitrary. All they do is treat one segment of the population — gay men and lesbians — differently than their same-sex counterparts, for no logical reason.

The practical effects of the ruling are significant, as the couples will now be able to make name changes and register for the benefits that heterosexual married couples currently enjoy in Missouri under both federal law and state law. For many, this can mean a much lower tax burden and recognition in the case of medical care or estate planning.

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Youngs' ruling does not pertain to the ban on same-sex marriages performed within the state of Missouri because that was not the question put to the court by the plaintiffs. Since the plaintiffs were already married, they were filing suit for recognition of already valid marriages. While it seems likely from the language of the opinion that Youngs would have found the entire ban unconstitutional, the court could only address those questions put before it.

There's still work to be done, but at least Missouri couples now have the option of going out of state knowing that the rule of law says their marriages will be recognised when they return.

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