Last night in Missouri, at the mayor's request, four couples had their marriages performed by St. Louis officials in an historic act of advocacy against the statewide ban on marriage equality. The ceremonies were performed on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal ban on marriage equality, being struck down.
Mayor Francis Slay, who is the city's longest serving mayor, was joined by several officials in making this show of support for LGBT equality a reality. In City Hall, the couples received their marriage certificates, Municipal Judge Joseph Murphy officiated four separate ceremonies held in the mayor's office, and Recorder of Deeds Sharon Quigley Carpenter signed the licenses.
"Make no mistake about it,” Mayor Slay told St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “I, and all of us standing here, are doing this to force the issue and to get the law settled for everyone who wants to get married in the state of Missouri. If we weren’t doing this, no other city in Missouri would.”
Mayor Slay said in a statement:
It is our belief that the U.S. Constitution requires the recognition of same-sex marriages. And Missouri law requires a Recorder of Deeds to issue a marriage license to any couple who is "legally entitled" to such a license. We have created a clear, direct legal challenge to Missouri's unconstitutional ban on marriage equality. We hope to get this before the courts to settle this issue on behalf of all gay and lesbian people in our state...I strongly commend the courage of the couples, some of whom I have known for years; others of whom I have met only recently. They will face scrutiny of the intolerant, supported by the love and respect of most fair-minded people. I wish them every happiness, and I pledge the full resources of my office to affirm the solemn contracts they have made to each other.
St. Louis, which is both a county and a city, is behind the first direct challenge to Missouri's constitutional ban on marriage equality. Officials are prepared to challenge the ban in the U.S. Supreme Court, finding that the ban violates the nation's constitution.
Among the newlyweds are John Durnell and Richard Eaton, together for 39 years and devoted community advocates; Tod Martin, deputy chief of staff for U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, and his partner David Gray; Miranda Duschack and Karen "Mimo" Davis, who jumped a broom to signify the state's refusal to recognize their union; and Bruce Yampolsky and Terry Garrett, who are active in advocacy and Democratic politics, and also formerly served in the Navy and Army, respectively.
"We take our freedoms for granted once we achieve them," said John, 63, moments before he and Richard, 75, were married.
GLAAD has been working closely with the mayor's office to share these couples' stories and the city officials' actions to bring marriage equality to the entire state.
Tweet about this moment in LGBT history using #showmemarriage.