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Timeline: Same-Sex Marriage In Missouri And Kansas

Flickr, Creative Commons

  Updated 2:51 p.m. Nov. 25

The whirlwind of gay marriage decisions in Missouri and Kansas has left same-sex couples, court watchers and even reporters a bit breathless.

In an effort to keep us all up-to-date with these quick-moving issues, KCUR has pieced together this timeline, which highlights significant legal developments in both Missouri and Kansas in the state and federal courts. The list is not exhaustive but represents our best attempt to make sense of the rush of events while offering a look back at some of our coverage.

If you have any additions or suggestions, please email us at lowep@kcur.org or margoliesd@kcur.org.


State Court 

June 24, 2014 — ACLU of Missouri sueson behalf of two Kansas City, Mo., couples who were denied marriage licenses based on state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Oct. 3, 2014 — Jackson County Circuit Judge J. Dale Youngs rules that Missouri must recognize marriages of same-sex couples in other states where it’s legal. 

Nov. 5, 2014 — St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex M. Burlison rules that Missouri’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. He orders St. Louis officials to begin issuing marriage licenses to couples who meet all other qualifications for marriage. By end of the day, four same-sex couples are married.

Nov. 5, 2014 — Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster appeals Burlison’s decision to the Missouri Supreme Court but does not ask it to stay the ruling.

Federal Court 

June 24, 2014 — The ACLU of Missouri sues on behalf of two gay couples who were denied marriage licenses based on Missouri’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Oct. 6, 2014 — U.S. Supreme Court declines to intercede in five pending cases in which state same-sex marriage bans were struck down as unconstitutional.

Nov. 7, 2014 — U.S. District JudgeOrtrieSmith rulesthat Missouri’s 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution. Smith’s ruling comes one day after the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upholds bans on gay marriage in four other states, setting the stage for possible review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Nov. 7, 2014 — Citing Smith’s ruling, Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders directs Jackson County Recorder of Deeds to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Retired Jackson County Circuit Judge Vernon E. Scoville performs the first gay wedding ceremony shortly after 2 p.m.

Nov. 7, 2014 — Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster says he will appeal Smith’s ruling to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

Nov. 25, 2014 — Smith declines ACLU's request to lift stay of his order, leaving same-sex marriage ban in place. Says stay will expire on Dec. 9 unless defendants appeal.


State Court 

Oct. 8, 2014 — Johnson County Chief District Judge Kevin P. Moriarty directs clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Moriarty does so two days after U.S. Supreme Court declined to intercedein five cases in which federal courts had struck down gay marriage bans in five states, including Utah and Oklahoma, both of which are in the same federal circuit as Kansas.

Oct. 10, 2014 — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt asks Kansas Supreme Court to find that Moriarty exceeded his authority and seeks order halting issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Oct. 10, 2014 — Kansas Supreme Court temporarily staysMoriarty’s order but says clerks may continue to accept marriage license applications. The court schedules arguments for Nov. 6 to determine if it should make the stay permanent. 

Nov. 5, 2014 — Kansas Supreme Court cancels Nov. 6 hearing in light of federal court ruling the previous day finding Kansas’ ban unconstitutional. (See below)

Nov. 13, 2014 — Kansas Supreme Court announces it will begin deliberations on Nov. 17 in Schmidt's case against Moriarty. Says it will release decision as soon as it is able to following deliberations.

Federal Court 

Oct. 10, 2014 — Shortly after the Kansas Supreme Court temporarily halts issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the ACLU Foundation of Kansas sues on behalf of two gay couples who were denied marriage licenses based on Kansas’ ban on same-sex marriage.  

Nov. 4, 2014 — U.S. District Court Daniel D. Crabtree rules Kansas’ 2005 constitutional amendment and statutes banning same-sex marriage violate the U.S. Constitution. Crabtree says he is bound by earlier decisions of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver finding that similar bans in Utah and Oklahoma were unconstitutional. However, he stays his own order until Nov. 11.

Nov. 6, 2014 — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt files emergency motion with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stay Crabtree’s order. He also files emergency application with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who handles such matters from the 10th Circuit.

Nov. 7, 2014 — 10th Circuit denies Schmidt’s emergency motion.

Nov. 10, 2014 — Justice Sotomayor indefinitely staysCrabtree’s order, leaving Kansas’ ban temporarily in effect, and directs ACLU to file response by Nov. 11.

Nov. 12, 2004 — U.S. Supreme Court lifts Sotomayor's stay, letting Crabtree's order take effect. 

Nov. 18, 2014 -- Kansas Supreme Court, in a limited ruling, allows Johnson County to issue marriage licenses but refused to address whether the state's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.

Nov. 20, 2014 -- Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announces he won't recognize same-sex marriage rights, despite some counties recognition.

Dan Margolies has been a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star, and KCUR Public Radio. He retired as a reporter in December 2022 after a 37-year journalism career.
I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
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