LGBT rights in Missouri

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LGBT rights in Missouri
Missouri (US)
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal in Western District counties only since 1999
(State of Missouri v. Cogshell)
Legal statewide since 2003
(Lawrence v. Texas)
Discrimination protections No
Family rights
Recognition of
For tax purposes only[1]
Constitutional Ban
Adoption No

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of Missouri face some legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Missouri. Same-sex couples and families headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for all of the protections available to opposite-sex married couples.

Laws against homosexuality[edit]

Until 2006, Missouri law defined "deviate sexual intercourse" as "any act involving the genitals of one person and the hand, mouth, tongue, or anus of another person or a sexual act involving the penetration, however slight, of the male or female sex organ or the anus by a finger, instrument or object done for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of any person."[2]

Missouri criminalized having "deviate sexual intercourse with another person of the same sex" as "Sexual Misconduct in the First Degree."[3] In 1986, the Supreme Court of Missouri upheld the constitutionality of this prohibition in State v. Walsh.[4] When the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas rendered laws banning consensual sexual activity unenforceable, Missouri was one of only 4 states that criminalized only homosexual sodomy.[5]

In 2006, Missouri removed consensual sodomy from its definition of "Sexual Misconduct in the First Degree."[3][6]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

In August 2004, 71% of Missouri voters ratified Amendment 2, which restricted the validity and recognition of marriage in Missouri to the union of one man and one woman.[7][8] Missouri does not recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, but on November 14, 2013, Governor Jay Nixon signed an executive order to allow same-sex couples married in other jurisdictions to file joint state income taxes if they file joint federal returns.[9][10]

Following the death in 2009 of Cpl. Dennis Engelhard of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, his partner of 15 years, Kelly Glossip sued the state for survivor benefits.[11] After the trial court dismissed his suit, Glossip appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court.[12] Amicus briefs filed by several Missouri law professors, the mayor of St. Louis, and several state legislators argued that the state's denial of benefits discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation and should be reviewed using the heightened scrutiny standard.[13] The court heard arguments in the appeal on February 27, 2013.[14] The court ruled 5-2 against Glossip in October 2013, saying his claim was denied on the basis of his marital status, not his sexual orientation.[15][16]

Domestic partnership registries[edit]

Map of Missouri counties and cities that offer domestic partner benefits either county-wide or in particular cities.
  City offers domestic partner benefits
  County-wide partner benefits through domestic partnership
  County or city does not offer domestic partner benefits

A number of jurisdictions within Missouri provide domestic partnership registries which only allow for certain benefits and are only valid and applicable within city or county borders:

Same-Sex Marriage Lawsuits[edit]

The ACLU of Missouri initiated three lawsuits in 2014. Messer v. Nixon, filed on January 8, sought to require Missouri to accept joint income tax filings from same-sex couples who file their federal income taxes jointly.[21] Barrier v. Vasterling, which challenged the state's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, was filed in state circuit court on February 11. Oral arguments on motions for summary judgment are scheduled for September 25, 2014, before Judge James D. Youngs in Kansas City.[22] On June 24, Lawson v. Kelly was filed in the same court on behalf of two same-sex couples who had been denied marriage licenses.[23][23][24] After Jackson County officials said they would not participate in defending the state's position[25] and Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster intervened, it was moved to federal district court and assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Ortrie D. Smith.[26]

Adoption and parenting[edit]

Missouri has no laws limiting the rights of individuals to adopt children. With respect to couples and second-parent adoption, there are no explicit prohibitions and have been no court cases.[27]

Discrimination protection[edit]

Map of Missouri counties and cities that have sexual orientation and/or gender identity anti–employment discrimination ordinances
  Sexual orientation and gender identity with anti–employment discrimination ordinance
  Sexual orientation in public employment

Missouri law does not address discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.[28] After being proposed for nine years, a bill to add "sexual orientation" to Missouri's non-discrimination statute had its first committee hearing in March 2010.[29] On May 17, 2013, the Senate passed legislation banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, housing, and public accommodations by a 19–11. The House of Representatives adjourned without considering the legislation.[30]

Hate crime[edit]

Missouri's hate crimes statutes explicitly address both sexual orientation, defined as "male or female heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality by inclination, practice, identity or expression," and gender identity, defined as "having a self-image or identity not traditionally associated with one's gender."[31]

Public opinion[edit]

A September 2011 Public Policy Polling survey found that 32% of Missouri voters supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, while 59% were opposed and 9% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 62% of respondents supported legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 28% supporting same-sex marriage, 34% supporting civil unions, 37% opposing all legal recognition and 1% not sure.[32]

A May 2012 Public Policy Polling survey found that 36% of Missouri voters supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, while 52% were opposed and 12% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 64% of respondents supported legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 33% supporting same-sex marriage, 31% supporting civil unions, 32% opposing all legal recognition and 4% not sure.[33]

Trans* Advocacy and Birth Certificate Changes[edit]

On the 22 April 2013 case 13AR-CV00157 was heard before the Missouri courts on the matter of a transgender name change with amendments - the accompanying amendments dealt with an explicit granting of the petitioner the right to change gender with the Missouri Department of Revenue and other venues pertaining to the use of state identification.[34] On 20 May 2013 case 13AR-CV00240 was heard before the Missouri courts, with a partial delay, on the matter of gender affirmation and recognition for Jamie Miranda Glistenburg.[35] Although Mo. Ann. Stat. § 193.215(9) was not completely invalidated via court orders 13AR-CV00157 and 13AR-CV00240, the orders effectively silenced the discriminatory law until repealed by order of a federal court or by legislative action. The ruling in 13AR-CV00240 that silences Mo. Ann. Stat. § 193.215(9) reads, in brief, as follows, " is found that said request of relief is proper and that such change will not be detrimental to the interest of any persons, nor be against the interest of the state or of any given establishment ... Wherefore, the court understands that select circumstances, such as this case, require judicial intervention in order to prevent discrimination. Moreover, the explicit requirement of surgical procedures or medications that may be deemed unsuitable, dangerous, or unnecessary to the Petitioner by medical assertion shall be given relief notwithstanding Mo. Ann. Stat. § 193.215(9)..." Because of the judicial precedent established in the case of 13AR-CV00240 there are many transgender individuals and lawyers seeking similar relief in other restrictive states.[36]


  1. ^ Young, Virginia. "Missouri to allow joint tax returns for legally married same-sex couples". Saint Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "Mo. Rev. Stat 566.010 (Supp. 2010)". 2013-08-28. Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  3. ^ a b House Bill 1698, Mo. Gen. Assembly (Reg. Sess 2006), accessed April 14, 2011
  4. ^ Google Scholar: State v. Walsh, 713 S.W.2d 508 (Mo. banc 1986), accessed April 14, 2011
  5. ^ New York Times: "Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Law Banning Sodomy," June 26, 2003, access April 14, 2011
  6. ^ Missouri General Assembly: Mo. Rev. Stat 566.090 (Supp. 2010)
  7. ^ Washington Post: Alan Cooperman, "Gay Marriage Ban in Mo. May Resonate Nationwide," August 5, 2004, accessed April 9, 2011
  8. ^ "Mo. Const. art. I, sec. 33 (Supp. 2010)". Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  9. ^ Wilson, Reid (November 15, 2013). "Missouri governor allows same-sex couples to file joint tax returns". Washington Post. Retrieved November 18, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Executive Order 13-14". Retrieved April 9, 2014. 
  11. ^ Hartmann, Ray (January 2011). "Think Again: A Hero's Unwelcome". St. Louis Magazine. Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  12. ^ Lippmann, Rachel (February 26, 2013). "Partner Of Late Trooper Takes Benefits Fight To Supreme Court". St. Louis Public Radio. Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Case Summary for February 27, 2013". Supreme Court of Missouri. Missouri Courts. Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  14. ^ Young, Virginia (February 27, 2013). "Gay partner of fallen trooper seeks benefits in case before Missouri Supreme Court". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  15. ^ Lippmann, Rachel (October 29, 2013). "Same-Sex Partner Of Missouri State Trooper Ruled Ineligible For Survivor Benefits". St. Louis Public Radio. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  16. ^ Glossip v. Missouri Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol Employees' Retirement System No. SC92583 (Mo., 2013)
  17. ^ "City of Clayton Approves Domestic Partnership Registry to Improve Access, Enhance Quality of Life" (Press release). City of Clayton. January 25, 2012. Retrieved March 30, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Affidavit of Joanne R. Mossle". American Civil Liberties Union. March 8, 2011. Retrieved March 6, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Ordinance No. 2457". City of Olivette. July 26, 2011. Retrieved March 6, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Domestic Partnership Registry". City of University City. Retrieved March 6, 2012. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ Miley, Cynthia (February 14, 2014). "ACLU files lawsuit over Missouri ban on recognizing same-sex marriages". Jurist. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  23. ^ a b
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ Human Rights Campaign: Missouri Adoption Law, accessed April 14, 2011
  28. ^ Missouri General Assembly: Missouri Human Rights Act, Mo. Rev. Stat. 213.010, et seq. (Supp. 2010), accessed April 14, 2011
  29. ^ Messenger, Tony (March 23, 2010). "Gay discrimination measure advances in Mo. House". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  30. ^ Young, Virginia (May 17, 2013). "Senate advances gay rights bill for first time ever". St Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved May 18, 2013. 
  31. ^ Missouri General Assembly: Missouri Revised Statutes Section 557.035, accessed April 9, 2011
  32. ^ Retrieved 2013-11-02.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  33. ^ "Missouri will be a swing state this year, voters say". Public Policy Polling. Retrieved 1 June 2012. 
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^ "Missouri Transition Information". Transas City. 2014-03-20. Retrieved 2014-06-29.