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Some Missouri Counties Refusing Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples

PROMO Missouri

Some Missouri counties are going slow – and two are outright refusing – to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Of the state’s 114 counties, 11 have yet to implement the changes brought on by last Friday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court overturning bans on same-sex marriage.

An additional two counties aren’t issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples at all. Clerks in Schuyler County, in northeast Missouri, and Cape Girardeau County in the southwest part of the state are refusing for religious reasons, according to the  Katie Stuckenschneider of PROMO, a statewide marriage equality group. (PROMO's map is here)

There were more counties that were reluctant to implement the necessary changes after Friday’s decision until the ACLU sent them letters demanding action, Stuckenschnedier said.

“Since then, we’ve seen a lot of counties who have initially said ‘Oh,we’re not doing that,’ go to ‘OK, we have to abide by the law and we’re implementing the system,’” she said.

Counties have 25 days to comply following last Friday’s decision.

Linda Blessing, recorder of deeds in Schuyler County told the Associated Press that she decided to refuse to issue the licenses on religious grounds.

“Biblically, I think it’s incorrect,” she told the wire service. “I think the decision that the Supreme Court made was wrong.”

Tony Rothert, legal director for the ACLU of Missouri, told Missourinet that the clerks could face legal action.

“We are ready to represent someone who is turned away in any Missouri county. They have a right to a marriage license. The Supreme Court’s made that clear,” Rothert said. “We think that we’d be able to get an injunction requiring the recorders to follow the Constitution right away.”

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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