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Marriage Equality

Missouri Seeks to Ban Issuance of Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Missouri Seeks to Ban Issuance of Same-Sex Marriage Licenses


His bill would provide for the firing of any public employee who granted a license to a same-sex couple.

A Missouri state senator has introduced a bill that would make it a crime to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple and would mean job loss for any public employee who does so.

Sen. Ed Emery, a Republican, filed the bill Thursday, reports Boom Magazine, a Missouri LGBT news outlet. The legislation, Senate Bill 555, reads in part:

This act provides that the state shall not enforce a marriage other than a marriage between a man and a woman. Additionally, no state or local taxpayer funds or state or local government employee salaries shall be dispersed for an activity that includes the licensing or support of a marriage other than a marriage between a man and a woman.

Any employee of the state or any political subdivision or instrumentality of the state who willfully and knowingly violates the provisions of this act may be terminated and shall no longer receive any salary, employee benefits, or retirement benefits, except that the employee may request a refund of the employee's retirement contributions plus interest.

So far, only three jurisdictions in Missouri are licensing same-sex marriages: the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and Jackson County (which includes Kansas City). There have been three court rulings in favor of marriage equality in the state; two are on appeal, while the state has accepted a judge's October ruling that it recognize same-sex marriages performed outside the state.

"I was disappointed that a bill like this has been introduced this year," Kyle Piccola, senior field organizer for Missouri LGBT advocacy organization PROMO, told Boom. "Even after three judges in Missouri ruled in favor of marriage equality, some members of the legislature are grasping to stop the inevitable from happening."

The Kansas City Star's Capitol Watch column said the "mean-spirited bill ... would put the state in conflict with state and federal courts, possibly including an expected U.S. Supreme Court ruling. It should go no further."

Similar legislation has been introduced in Texas and Oklahoma. In Missouri, meanwhile, pending antigay legislation also includes bills that would permit student religious organizations at colleges to discriminate against LGBT people, Boom notes. Two such bills had Senate committee hearings last week, and a companion bill has been introduced in the House.

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