(AP) – A state judge overturned Missouri’s constitutional ban on gay marriage Wednesday in a ruling that immediately set off a rush among some same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses.
St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison said in a written ruling that Missouri’s measure recognizing marriage only between a man and woman violates the due process and equal protection rights of the U.S. Constitution. The decision mirrored ones handed down recently in several other states.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster immediately appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court, saying the constitutional challenge “must be presented to and resolved” at that level. But he said that his office wouldn’t seek a stay of the order, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant stays after same-sex marriage decisions in Idaho and Alaska.
Koster previously chose not to appeal a recent ruling requiring Missouri to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
After hearing about Wednesday’s ruling, Kelley Harris and Kelly Barnard drove immediately to St. Louis recorder of deed’s office at City Hall to apply for a marriage license. They called a photographer to record the event and planned to invite friends to attend an impromptu ceremony at a local park. The couple had held an unofficial wedding ceremony in 2003