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Missouri Judge Grants First Divorce to Gay Couple

A judge in Boone County, Missouri has granted a gay couple a divorce, which experts say is the state's first, the Columbia Tribune reports:

SchneiderIn a ruling handed down last month, Boone County Circuit Judge Leslie Schneider (pictured) granted a divorce for Dena and Samantha Latimer, who were married in Massachusetts in 2009 and lived in Columbia. She ruled that under the legal doctrine of "comity," which essentially means the recognition of the laws of another jurisdiction, a Missouri court can recognize the law of where the marriage was performed "for the limited purpose of granting equitable relief."

Schneider's ruling says that, while Missouri's Defense of Marriage Act prohibits a court from recognizing a same-sex marriage, Missouri courts have made judgments on marriages that were not valid to begin with, such as a 1993 Western District Missouri Court of Appeals judgment on a marriage in which the parties failed to obtain a marriage license.

Considering those cases, Schneider ruled, "the court maintains an authority to enter judgment with respect to a marriage that is not legally recognized."

Schneider added that Missouri violates due process clauses of the 14th Amendment by denying gay couples the ability to void their marriages.

Legislation has been proposed in the 'Show Me' state that would reverse the state’s 2004 constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Also, the state's governor Jay Nixon is facing impeachment threats from Republican lawmakers angry that he issued an executive order allowing same-sex couples who married elsewhere to file joint tax returns in the state.


Gay Marriage News Watch: Updates from MI, MO, MS, and CO — VIDEO

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There is good news and bad news for marriage in Michigan - its ban on same-sex marriage had been struck down, but is being appealed. Michigan won't recognize the marriages, but the federal government will. A Missouri rep. has introduced a bill for marriage equality in Missouri. Activism in Mississippi led to the denial of several marriage licenses there where a lawsuit may soon appear. An equality campaign in Colorado is taking off.

Plus, new national polling, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gay Marriage News Watch: Updates from MI, MO, MS, and CO — VIDEO" »


Missouri State Legislator Files Amendment to Legalize Marriage Equality: VIDEO

A Missouri state representative has filed a proposal that would reverse the state’s 2004 constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, Missourinet reports:

Mike colonaRepresentative Mike Colona (D-St. Louis), who is gay, says that he is introducing the bill because the time is right for the General Assembly to address this issue again.

Colona points to the Missouri Supreme Court case last year regarding survivor benefits for Missouri State Troopers and Governor Jay Nixon’s vocal support for gay rights as signs that his state is ready to take the next step towards LGBT equality. 

“My thoughts are,” says Colona “ten years after the passage of that marriage ban, we very well could have a much different outcome.”

Voters approved the 2004 ban 71%-29%.

Watch Rep. Colona discuss his bill’s introduction, AFTER THE JUMP

And in other news, more than 300 Missouri-based companies are now voicing their support for the passage of the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA) which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s Human Rights Statute. 

Continue reading "Missouri State Legislator Files Amendment to Legalize Marriage Equality: VIDEO" »


Missouri Judge Asked to Halt Acceptance of Joint Tax Returns from Gay Couples

A lawsuit has been filed in Missouri challenging the state's acceptance of joint tax returns from gay couples, the AP reports:

NixonThe request for a temporary restraining order was filed Wednesday in Cole County Circuit Court.

It's part of an ongoing lawsuit brought by several Missouri residents, including officials from the Missouri Baptist Convention. They're challenging a decision by Gov. Jay Nixon's (pictured) administration to accept combined tax returns from legally married same-sex couples.

Nixon is also the target of impeachment efforts by several conservative lawmakers for accepting the joint tax filings.

Nixon directed the state to accept the tax returns in an executive order last November, and at the same time made clear his personal views on same-sex marriage:

“Many Missourians, including myself, are thinking about these issues of equality in new ways and reflecting on what constitutes discrimination. For me, that process has led to the belief that we shouldn’t treat folks differently because of who they are.”


Missouri College Refuses to Re-enroll Student Who Came Out as Gay Since He 'Misused God's Gift'

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Chase Martinson was halfway through his studies at Hannibal-LaGrange University when health issues forced him to take a break. When he reapplied the school said it wouldn't accept him.

Why? Because during the time he was on a break, he came out as a gay man.

The Riverfront Times reports:

Martinson reapplied to Hannibal-LaGrange, a small school about 120 miles north of St. Louis, a few months ago, quickly getting an acceptance letter and even a note saying he was eligible for the honors program. Everything was on track -- until the next letter came, putting his application on hold:

"Admittance is open to academically and morally qualified students," the school wrote Martinson on March 4. "Admission is open to students who are in agreement with the HLGU Student Life Guidelines."

The school directed Martinson to pages 20and 27 of the student-life guidelines, where the school's sexual impropriety rules are spelled out. Both pages explicitly forbid "homosexual activities." Page 27 even prohibits appearing to be gay.

"I just wanted to be me, and I never had any idea this would happen," Martinson tells Daily RFT. "I thought I was already in, but then they send me this letter saying, 'Just kidding.'"

The school's policy suggests that Martinson 'misused God's gift:

"It is God's intent that heterosexual union is the only acceptable expression of sexuality and must be reserved for marriage," says the school's standard of sexual conduct. "This expression of a self-giving love is viewed as a gift from God. All members of the University community should abstain from behavior which may lead to a violation of God's standards on sexual activities.

The school lists homosexuality -- along with sexual abuse, sexual harassment, incest and sexual assault -- as "misuses of God's gift."

Martinson is enrolling at University of Missouri - St. Louis.

(image facebook)


Michael Sam Tells Mizzou He 'Worked Hard Not to Cry' When They Welcomed Him After Coming Out

Mizzou_sam

The Columbia Missourian has published a letter from NFL hopeful Michael Sam in which he thanks the Mizzou community for supporting his coming out.

Writes Sam in the letter:

To my fellow University of Missouri students, athletes, faculty, alumni and supporters:

From my first recruiting trip to the University of Missouri, I felt something extraordinary and special — something I didn't feel anyplace else. I didn't have a name for it then; I do now. It's called family. And to me that family is defined by unconditional love.

Certainly you cheered my successes, but you also picked me up when I fell. Maybe most importantly, you gave me a chance to live my truth without judgment, without hesitation and with great discretion and respect.

When I came out last month, I did it with the confidence that my Mizzou "family" would always be there for me. To put it mildly, the love and acceptance I felt was amazing. The day after the announcement, my name was spelled out in the stadium; fraternities hung #StandWithSam banners; then when I went to the basketball game to honor the football team's Cotton Bowl victory, I worked hard not to cry because of the amazing reception.

I have a long journey ahead of me, a lot of hard work and many dreams I want to fulfill. But I do it with the confidence that my Mizzou family will be there for me every step of the way. I will continue to work my hardest; I will strive to make you all proud. And I will be a Tiger forever.

Love, Michael


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