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Big Win for Same-Sex Marriage in Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CN) - Missouri must recognize same-sex marriages from other states, a state judge ruled Friday.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued Missouri in February on behalf of 10 same-sex couples who were married in other states that recognize gay marriage.

They claimed that Missouri's refusal to treat them as other married couples violated their 14th Amendment right because they were being discriminated against due to their sexual orientation.

Missouri argued that recognizing such marriages violated state law and the Missouri Constitution.

In 1996, state law was revised to recognize marriage as only between a man and woman. In 2001 voters passed amended the Missouri Constitution, so that a same-sex marriage would not be recognized even if it is valid in another state.

On Friday, Jackson County Circuit Judge J. Dale Youngs ruled in favor of the same-sex couples and issued a restraining order prohibiting Missouri from enforcing the 1996 law and 2001 amendment against the couples.

"(T)he 'uniform, consistent, and predictable' practice that has been in place for decades around the country is that 'a marriage, valid where contracted, is valid everywhere,'" Youngs wrote in a 20-page opinion.

"Frankly, it would be a more 'uniform, consistent and predictable' practice to simply dictate that no marriage contracted in any state other than Missouri is valid here. Of course, that would probably be unconstitutional, as well. It would in any event be an arbitrary distinction, which only underscores the fact that discriminating against the plaintiffs the way these laws do is even more arbitrary than that."

Married plaintiffs Janice Barrier and Sherie Schild were understandably happy with the decision.

"Our hearts are filled with jubilation," the couple said in a statement. "We believe the judge made a fair and just decision recognizing marriage for same-sex couples."

The ruling could affect more than 50,000 same-sex couples who were married in other states and now live in Missouri, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

"This is a personal win for our 10 courageous couples who stepped up to represent the LGBT community," Jeffrey A. Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri said in a statement. "Even better ? this is a win for the whole state because a discriminatory law has been struck down."

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