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ACLU files lawsuit over Missouri ban on recognizing same-sex marriages

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Missouri [advocacy websites] filed a lawsuit [text, PDF] on Monday in the 16th Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri [official website] on behalf of eight same-sex couples seeking recognition for their marriages, which were all performed out of state. Currently, Missouri's Constitutional Amendment 2 [text], approved by Missouri voters in 2004, states "[t]hat to be valid and recognized in this state, a marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman." The lawsuit includes couples who have been together for over 30 years, couples who have children or wish to adopt, and couples with concerns about health and job related benefits. The executive director of ACLU Missouri said [press release], "Because of the many benefits of marriage, Missouri has traditionally recognized lawful marriages performed in other states" and pointed out that the current laws are harmful to legally married same-sex couples. The lawsuit does not attempt to repeal Missouri's ban on same-sex marriage performed within the state, just gain marital recognition for marriages from other states.

The legal debates surrounding same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] are some of the most active legal controversies [JURIST op-ed] in the US. The Idaho Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] unanimously on Monday that a woman in a same-sex marriage may adopt her partner's birth children. Also on Monday, Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto announced Monday that her office would no longer be pursuing its legal defense [JURIST report] of the state's same-sex marriage ban, stating that recent decisions in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] had rendered the state's arguments untenable. On Saturday, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced [JURIST report] the federal government plans to give married same-sex couples the same benefits as heterosexual couples when filing for bankruptcy, testifying in court, or visiting family members in prison. Last week, four legally married same-sex couples in the state of Ohio filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in federal court, seeking a court order to force the state of Ohio to recognize both spouses' names on birth certificates.

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