Republican leaders in the state legislature have asked a Jackson County Court to let them appeal its decision that same-sex marriages from other states must be recognized in Missouri.

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey (left) and Speaker Tim Jones

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey (left) and Speaker Tim Jones

Attorney General Chris Koster declined to challenge that ruling. Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey and House Speaker Tim Jones have asked that court to allow them to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

If they are given the chance to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, attorney Michael Whitehead says their argument will be based on the only federal court ruling that upholds state same-sex marriage bans.

“The 6th Circuit said upholding a definition of marriage as one man, one woman is not irrational,” Whitehead said. “It is a policy choice that the citizens of the state have made for generations and it is one that the court should uphold as long as the citizens of Missouri have upheld it.”

The 6th Circuit ruling earlier this month upheld bans in Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee.

Jackson County Circuit Judge J. Dale Youngs ruled, in part, that because Missouri recognizes other types of marriages from other states that aren’t legal in Missouri, such as those between first cousins, same-sex couples are treated uniquely in Missouri, which violates their constitutional rights to equal treatment.

“That response ignores the fundamental, essential nature of marriage as defined by the state of Missouri as one man, one woman,” Whitehead said. “To call something else ‘marriage’ because of a popular opinion that will change the definition is something like saying we’ve traditionally defined squares in a certain fashion, but if we just decide to call a square a shape, then a circle is also a shape, so why can’t we have square circles in the state of Missouri?”

Earlier story: GOP Missouri legislative leaders ask to appeal gay marriage ruling