Thursday, February 13, 2014

Suits Challenge Missouri's and Louisiana's Refusals To Recognize Out-of-State Same-Sex Marriages

Yesterday, the ACLU announced that has filed a state court lawsuit on behalf of 8 Missouri same-sex couples challenging Missouri's statutory and state constitutional provisions that deny recognition to plaintiffs' marriages that were legally entered into in other jurisdictions. The complaint (full text) in Barrier v. Vasterling, (MO Cir. Ct. Jackson County, filed 2/12/2014) contends:
Missouri’s exclusion of married same-sex couples from the protections and responsibilities of marriage violates the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This discriminatory treatment is subject to heightened scrutiny because it burdens the fundamental right to marry and because it discriminates based on sex and sexual orientation. But it cannot stand under any level of scrutiny because Missouri’s refusal to recognize the legal marriages of same-sex couples does not rationally further any legitimate government interest. It serves only to disparage and injure same-sex couples and their families.
Reporting on the lawsuit, the Columbia Missourian notes:
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon drew criticism from gay marriage opponents in November when he directed the state Department of Revenue to accept joint tax returns from same-sex couple who are legally married in other states.... The directive prompted a lawsuit filed by same-sex marriage opponents, and led a Republican lawmaker last week to file articles of impeachment against the Democratic governor.
Meanwhile, in Louisiana an organization that advocates for LGBT equality filed a federal court lawsuit challenging Louisiana's statutory and state constitutional provisions that bar recognition of same-sex marriages validly performed elsewhere. The complaint (full text) in Forum for Equality Louisiana, Inc. v. Barfield, (ED LA, filed 2/12/2014), in claiming that the Louisiana Anti-Recognition Laws violate plaintiffs' equal protection and due process rights, focuses particularly on the state's refusal to accept joint tax returns from married same-sex couples and its refusal to issue birth certificates naming same-sex couples as parents of a child.  The New Orleans Times Picayune reports on the lawsuit.