ACLU to challenge Missouri gay marriage ban - KCTV5

ACLU to challenge Missouri gay marriage ban

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KCTV/AP) -

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday plans to file suit challenging Missouri's treatment of same-sex marriages.

The ACLU's Diane Balogh said Tuesday that the suit will be filed in state court in Kansas City on behalf of eight same-sex couples across the state of Missouri in order to get the state to recognize their marriages.

Other than that, the ACLU is not saying much more about the lawsuit. News conferences announcing the litigation are planned for Wednesday morning in Kansas City, St. Louis, Jefferson City and Springfield.

It's unclear if the ACLU suit will challenge Missouri's constitutional ban on same-sex marriages or if it would simply seek recognition of gay marriages from other states.

Openly gay legislator Sen. Jolie Justus said she is watching this closely.

"I suspect this is similar to some of the other lawsuits we've seen in other states where they're filing under the Supreme Court decision under Windsor (United States v. Windsor case that altered DOMA's marriage definition) and challenging the constitutionality of the ban on gay marriage in the state of Missouri would be my guess," Justus said.

Missouri in 2004 became the first state to enact a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage after the Massachusetts Supreme Court permitted gay marriage there. The Missouri measure was approved with 70 percent of the vote.

Kansas also has a ban on same-sex marriages, but lawmakers are already working on a new law in case that ban is overturned in court.

Kansas House members have given first-round approval to a bill aimed at protecting people, groups and businesses that cite religious reasons for refusing to provide goods or services for gay weddings.

The vote Tuesday was 72-42. The measure advanced even though critics suggested the bill would encourage widespread discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The House plans to take final action on the bill Wednesday, and it's likely to pass.

The bill bars government sanctions for refusing to recognize a marriage or civil union, or to provide goods or services to a couple. Anti-discrimination lawsuits also would be barred.

Critics have zeroed in on limited protections in the bill for individual workers and government employees even if their employers want to provide goods and services to gay couples.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved  The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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