The City of St. Louis has set up a challenge to Missouri’s constitutional ban on gay marriage by issuing marriage licenses to four same-sex couples in a ceremony Wednesday night at City Hall. The four couples were then married by a municipal judge in the office of Mayor Francis Slay.
The city says it will voluntarily stop issuing any more same-sex marriage licenses as it expects to defend the first four, in a challenge to the constitutional ban. City officials tell the St. Louis Post-Dispatch they will take the issue all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
Slay said the ceremony made him proud. “St. Louis is a city that doesn’t tolerate discrimination. We are sending a message on what’s right, and I can’t think of anything more right than this.”
The Attorney General’s Office Thursday morning sought a temporary restraining order blocking the city’s Recorder of Deeds from issuing further marriage licenses. Circuit Judge Rex Burlison denied that motion, noting that Recorder Sharon Quigley Carpenter agreed that while the case is going on she would issue such licenses only after giving the Attorney General’s Office and the Court two business days’ notification. A spokeswoman for the Attorney General says a hearing will be held at a later date on preliminary and permanent injunctions.
Missouri voters in 2004 approved an amendment to the state Constitution defining marriage as only being between a man and a woman.
Federal appeals courts on Wednesday issued rulings against same-sex marriage bans in Utah and Indiana.