LGBT rights in Missouri

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Map of USA MO.svg
StatusLegal in Western District counties only since 1999
(State of Missouri v. Cogshell)
Legal statewide since 2003
(Lawrence v. Texas)
Discrimination protectionsSexual orientation protection solely in public employment
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsSame-sex marriage since 2015

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) persons in the U.S. state of Missouri face some legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBTQ residents. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Missouri.

Missouri recognizes same-sex marriages. A state court ruling striking down Missouri's same-sex marriage ban ordered the City of St. Louis to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. St. Louis County and Jackson County also issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. On June 26, 2015, the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges invalidated the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples, including Missouri's.

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[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."[1]

Missouri criminalized having "deviate sexual intercourse with another person of the same sex" as "Sexual Misconduct in the First Degree."[2] In 1986, the Supreme Court of Missouri upheld the constitutionality of this prohibition in State v. Walsh.[3] 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.[4]

In 2006, Missouri removed consensual sodomy from its definition of "Sexual Misconduct in the First Degree."[2][5]

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.[6][7]

Same-sex marriage from other jurisdictions[edit]

Missouri has recognized same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions since November 2013. On November 14, 2013, Governor Jay Nixon issued an executive order allowing same-sex couples married in other jurisdictions to file a combined Missouri income tax return if they file their federal return jointly.[8][9] A lawsuit aiming to reverse his order, Messer v. Nixon, was filed in Cole County Circuit Court on January 8, 2014.[10][11]

The ACLU filed a lawsuit, Barrier v. Vasterling, challenging the state's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions in state circuit court on February 1, 2014.[12] On October 3, Judge J. Dale Youngs ruled that Missouri's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions violated the plaintiffs' right to equal protection under both the state and federal constitutions.[13] On October 6, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced the state would not appeal the decision.[14]


Glossip v. Missouri Department of Transportation[edit]

Kelly Glossip sued the state for survivor benefits after the death of his husband, a highway patrol officer.[15] After the trial court dismissed his suit, Glossip appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court.[16] The Missouri Supreme 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.[17][18]

State of Missouri v. Florida[edit]

In June[when?], St. Louis officials licensed four same-sex marriages in order to provide the basis for a lawsuit when the state ordered them to stop the practice.[19] St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison found for the plaintiffs on November 5, ruling that Missouri's refusal to license same-sex marriages violates the Missouri and federal constitutions.[20] Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster did not to seek a stay of the ruling's implementation.[21] He and the Recorders' Association of Missouri said Judge Burlison's order only applied to the city of St. Louis,[22] where the city's marriage license department began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.[23] St. Louis County, where an official said "We believe it's a county-by-county decision",[22] began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples the next day.[24]

Lawson v. Kelly[edit]

On June 24, 2014, the ACLU filed Lawson v. Kelly in Jackson County circuit court on behalf of two same-sex couples who had been denied marriage licenses in Jackson County.[25] Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster had the case moved to federal district court, where U.S. District Court Judge Ortrie D. Smith ruled for the plaintiffs on November 7. He ordered Jackson County to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but stayed his order pending appeal.[26] Despite the stay, Jackson County began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately following the decision.[27] On November 21, the plaintiffs asked Judge Smith to lift his stay in light of State of Missouri v. Florida, noting that the state has no position on the request.[28] Attorney General Koster filed notice of appeal in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on December 5.[29]

U.S. Supreme Court ruling[edit]

On June 26, 2015, the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges invalidated the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples, making Missouri's restrictions on the licensing and recognition of same-sex marriages unenforceable. On July 7, Governor Jay Nixon issued an executive order directing all state agencies to comply with that ruling, while also rescinding his earlier, narrower executive order with respect to same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, which his new ordered superseded.[30]

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:

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.[35]

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.[36] 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.[37] 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.[38]

Hate crime law[edit]

Missouri's hate crime 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."[39]

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.[40]

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.[41]

A 2017 Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) poll found that 58% of Missouri residents supported same-sex marriage, while 35% opposed. 7% were undecided. Additionally, the same poll found that 65% of Missouri residents supported an anti-discrimination law covering sexual orientation and gender identity, while only 28% opposed. Furthermore, 54% were against allowing public businesses to refuse to serve LGBT people due to religious beliefs, while 37% supported allowing such religiously-based refusals.[42]

Trans advocacy and birth certificate changes[edit]

On April 22, 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. On May 20, 2013 case 13AR-CV00240 was heard before the Missouri courts, with a partial delay, on the matter of gender affirmation and recognition. 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.

A court order will be needed with certified proof of change of sex (this certified proof will need to be printed on the hospital's official letterhead including the attending physician's licensing and contact information; also, the certification needs to state "The Petitioner's physical sex has been altered and the surgical changes are irreversible in accordance with Mo. Ann. Stat. § 193.215(9)").[43] All amendment questions or issuance of an amended certificate of birth should be referred to the Missouri Bureau of Vital Statistics and any legal questions concerning the process should be referred to a lawyer.[44] Any changes on the birth certificate will be noted on the original copy of the birth record and marked "amended" on the abstract copy with the corresponding authority (law) listed. The original birth certificate, not including the abstract copy, will have the old name and gender struck through with the corrected name and gender typed above the strike-through. Any challenges to this process will have to be filed in a district or federal court after a circuit court has denied petition.[45][46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mo. Rev. Stat 566.010 (Supp. 2010)". August 28, 2013. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  2. ^ a b House Bill 1698, Mo. Gen. Assembly (Reg. Sess 2006), accessed April 14, 2011
  3. ^ Google Scholar: State v. Walsh, 713 S.W.2d 508 (Mo. banc 1986), accessed April 14, 2011
  4. ^ New York Times: "Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Law Banning Sodomy," June 26, 2003, access April 14, 2011
  5. ^ Missouri General Assembly: Mo. Rev. Stat 566.090 (Supp. 2010)
  6. ^ Washington Post: Alan Cooperman, "Gay Marriage Ban in Mo. May Resonate Nationwide," August 5, 2004, accessed April 9, 2011
  7. ^ "Mo. Const. art. I, sec. 33 (Supp. 2010)". Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  8. ^ Wilson, Reid (November 15, 2013). "Missouri governor allows same-sex couples to file joint tax returns". Washington Post. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  9. ^ "Executive Order 13-14". Retrieved April 9, 2014.
  10. ^ Mannies, Jo (January 9, 2014). "Conservatives File Suit Against Nixon's Order Regarding Same-Sex Couples' Tax Filings". St. Louis Public Radio. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  11. ^ Young, Virginia. "Missouri to allow joint tax returns for legally married same-sex couples". Saint Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  12. ^ Miley, Cynthia (February 14, 2014). "ACLU files lawsuit over Missouri ban on recognizing same-sex marriages". Jurist. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  13. ^ Johnson, Chris (October 3, 2014). "Judge orders Missouri to recognize same-sex marriages". Washington Blade. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  14. ^ "Press Release: Attorney General Koster's statement on his decision not to appeal in Barrier v. Vasterling". Missouri Times. October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  15. ^ Hartmann, Ray (January 2011). "Think Again: A Hero's Unwelcome". St. Louis Magazine. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  16. ^ Lippmann, Rachel (February 26, 2013). "Partner Of Late Trooper Takes Benefits Fight To Supreme Court". St. Louis Public Radio. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ Glossip v. Missouri Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol Employees' Retirement System No. SC92583 (Mo., 2013)
  19. ^ Pistor, Nicholas (June 26, 2014). "Battle over same-sex marriages in St. Louis headed to court". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  20. ^ Moore, Doug (November 5, 2014). "Judge rules that gay marriage ban in Missouri is unconstitutional". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  21. ^ "AG Koster's statement regarding today's ruling in St. Louis same-sex marriage case". Missouri Attorney General. November 5, 2014. Archived from the original on November 6, 2014. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  22. ^ a b Lieb, David A. (November 6, 2014). "Many Missouri Counties Not Granting Gay Marriages". ABC News. Associated Press. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  23. ^ Raab, Lauren; Queally, James (November 5, 2014). "Missouri's gay marriage ban thrown out; St. Louis issuing licenses". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  24. ^ "St. Louis County Complies with Ruling on Gay Marriage Ban, Issues First Two Same Sex Marriage Licenses". St. Louis County. November 6, 2014. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  25. ^ "ACLU challenges Missouri ban on gay marriage". KSDK. Associated Press. June 27, 2014. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  26. ^ Geidner, Chris (November 7, 2014). "Missouri's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Is Unconstitutional, Federal Judge Rules". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  27. ^ Morris, Mark (November 7, 2014). "Same-sex marriages begin in Jackson County after U.S. judge finds state ban unconstitutional". Kansas City Star. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  28. ^ "Motion to Lift Stay". Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  29. ^ "Notice of Appeal". Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  30. ^ "Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon orders agencies to implement same-sex marriage ruling". Topeka Capital Journal. Associated Press. July 7, 2015. Retrieved July 7, 2015.
  31. ^ "City of Clayton Approves Domestic Partnership Registry to Improve Access, Enhance Quality of Life" (Press release). City of Clayton. January 25, 2012. Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  32. ^ "Affidavit of Joanne R. Mossle" (PDF). American Civil Liberties Union. March 8, 2011. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  33. ^ "Ordinance No. 2457" (PDF). City of Olivette. July 26, 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 24, 2014. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  34. ^ "Domestic Partnership Registry". City of University City. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  35. ^ Human Rights Campaign: Missouri Adoption Law Archived February 7, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, accessed April 14, 2011
  36. ^ Missouri General Assembly: Missouri Human Rights Act, Mo. Rev. Stat. 213.010, et seq. (Supp. 2010), accessed April 14, 2011
  37. ^ Messenger, Tony (March 23, 2010). "Gay discrimination measure advances in Mo. House". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  38. ^ Young, Virginia (May 17, 2013). "Senate advances gay rights bill for first time ever". St Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  39. ^ Missouri General Assembly: Missouri Revised Statutes Section 557.035, accessed April 9, 2011
  40. ^ "Missouri down on Blunt, wants Tigers to stay in Big 12" (PDF). Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  41. ^ "Missouri will be a swing state this year, voters say" (PDF). Public Policy Polling. Retrieved June 1, 2012.
  42. ^ "PRRI – American Values Atlas".
  43. ^ "Missouri Revisor of Statutes - Revised Statutes of Missouri, RSMo, Missouri Law, MO Law".
  44. ^ "Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services".
  45. ^ "Missouri Courts Home".
  46. ^

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