Barry County to issue same-sex marriage licenses
Supreme Court decision makes same-sex marriages legal in Missouri
Craig Williams, recorder of deeds and circuit clerk in Barry County, said applications for same-sex marriages are available in his office and licenses will be issued if requested.
"The office of the recorder has always attempted to comply to the best of its ability with the laws governing marriage license applications in the state of Missouri," he said. "While we recognize that same-sex marriage has been a divisive issue, we respect the judicial process.
"In accordance with the ruling of the United State Supreme Court, our office will be prepared to issue marriage licenses to same-sex applicants."
The office saw no applicants as of 3:30 p.m. Friday.
Via a 5-4 ruling by the Supreme Court Friday morning, same-sex marriages will officially be legal in about three weeks, although recorders of deeds may begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses now if they choose to do so.
Before Friday's Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, 37 states allowed same-sex marriages, and the ruling now defines same-sex marriage as a legal right in all 50 states. It would mean an end to the ban on same-sex marriages in the state of Missouri.
State Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, said he is against same-sex marriage but would be in favor of a civil union designation to allow gay couples the monetary rights afforded to straight couples.
"I am adamant on this and will not change my belief that marriage is between a man and a woman," he said. "If two men or two women want a civil union and the legal rights, I'm OK with that. But, marriage was founded on Christian principles and I will not change my stance on that.
"I do understand from a financial consequences of something like this, and I have no problem with a legal type of union, but not marriage."
Sater said he believes the ruling is an overreach by the federal government, and the states should be allowed to decide individually if same-sex marriage should be legal.
"I think it takes the power out of the hands of the states," he said. "I'm a big states' rights person, and I am doubtful the feds know what southwest Missouri needs, and we should be making those decisions here."
State Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob, said the decision to override state bans prevents citizens from governing themselves.
"In 2004, 71 percent of Missouri voters overwhelmingly voted to define marriage as between a man and a woman," he said. "Every single county, except the city of St. Louis, voted for traditional marriage. By redefining the institution of marriage nationwide, the unelected Supreme Court has decided that Americans, and Missourians, are no longer allowed to govern themselves.
"Not once does the U.S. Constitution reference marriage; its recognition and definition is a right reserved to the states under the 10th amendment. Today's ruling is an alarming demonstration by the Supreme Court of their willingness to ignore the confines of the constitution when making their rulings, and further emphasizes the importance of electing presidents who will fill seats on the Supreme Court with individuals who are committed to ruling based on the words in the Constitution rather than their personal preferences."
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the 103-page majority opinion, which may be found at http://tinyurl.com/o2orz9m. ;
"Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right," he wrote. "No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death.
"It would misunderstand these men and women to say that they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."
Kennedy was joined in the majority opinion by the court's liberal justices: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
All four of the court's more conservative members, including Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr., dissented and each wrote separate opinions, saying the court had infringed upon a power that belongs to the people.
Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon Friday said he'll take necessary action to implement the ruling throughout the state.
But the court's ruling won't take effect immediately. Justices are giving the losing side about three weeks to ask for reconsideration.
U.S. Rep. Billy Long issued a statement Friday morning expressing his disappointment in the decision.
"This decision is troubling as it will overturn voter-imposed state bans on the practice, such as in Missouri," he said. "I believe this decision directly removes and marginalizes the will of the people. It undermines the very democratic principle America is founded upon and deprives states of their Tenth Amendment rights. I join many southwest Missourians in expressing frustration with the Court's judgment, as it violates the traditional meaning of marriage."
Pam Robertson, recorder of deeds for Lawrence County, was on vacation and could not be reached for comment. State Rep. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, did not return a message left for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.