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LGBT rights in Missouri
Missouri (US)
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)
Recognition of
Lawful marriages contracted by same sex couples in other jurisdictions are recognized as valid in Missouri[1]
Constitutional Ban
Adoption No
Discrimination protections 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.

The state has decided not to appeal the ruling of a state judge who ordered Missouri to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.

Laws against homosexuality

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

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 recognizes same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. Before they did 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

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:


The ACLU of Missouri initiated three lawsuits in 2014.

  • Messer v. Nixon. 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.[21] Four conservatives, three associated with the Missouri Baptist Convention and one a former St. Charles County Executive now tied to Focus on the Family, filed Messer v. Nixon in Cole County Circuit Court on January 8, seeking to prevent the practice.[22]
  • 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[23] on behalf of eight same-sex couples,[24] later joined by two more. Oral arguments were held on September 25, before Judge J. Dale Youngs in Kansas City.[25] On October 3, Judge 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.[26] He ordered the state to recognize such marriages and held the state responsible for the plaintiffs' legal expenses.[27] On October 6, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced the state would not appeal the decision.[28]
  • State of Missouri v. Carpenter. In June, St. Louis officials licensed four same-sex marriages in order to provide the basis for a law suit when the state ordered them to stop the practice.[29] A hearing in the suit, State of Missouri v. Carpenter, was held on September 29 in state circuit court.[30]
  • Lawson v. Kelly. Also in June, Jackson County denied marriage license to two same-sex couples, which provided, according Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders, a better vehicle for a lawsuit than the St. Louis case.[31] On June 24, the ACLU filed Lawson v. Kelly in Jackson County circuit court on behalf of two same-sex couples who had been denied marriage licenses there.[32] Jackson County officials said it was up to the state attorney general to defend the state's position.[31] Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster intervened and had the case moved to federal district court, where it was assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Ortrie D. Smith.[33]

Adoption and parenting

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.[34]

Discrimination protection

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.[35] 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.[36] 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.[37]

Hate crime

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."[38]

Public opinion

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.[39]

MAP Equality Map


LGBT organizations

HIV/AIDS organizations

Anti-LGBT Industry


Thank You
Drawing-Gay flag.png
LGBT Wikipedians
Some content in this article from Wikipedia's WikiProject LGBT studies
The Wikipedia article is LGBT rights in Missouri
Special thank you to participants of Wikipedia's WikiProject LGBT studies!
  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)". Moga.mo.gov. 2013-08-28. Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 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)". Moga.mo.gov. 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. Wilson, Reid (November 15, 2013). "Missouri governor allows same-sex couples to file joint tax returns". Washington Post. Retrieved September 25, 2014. 
  22. 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. 
  23. Miley, Cynthia (February 14, 2014). "ACLU files lawsuit over Missouri ban on recognizing same-sex marriages". Jurist. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  24. "The Eight Couples Fighting for Marriage Equality in Missouri". Vital Voice. June 4, 2014. Retrieved September 25, 2014. 
  25. Moore, Doug (September 25, 2014). "Judge to rule 'as quickly as possible' in Missouri same-sex marriage case". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved September 25, 2014. 
  26. Johnson, Chris (October 3, 2014). "Judge orders Missouri to recognize same-sex marriages". Washington Blade. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  27. Geidner, Chris (October 3, 2014). "Missouri Must Recognize Same-Sex Marriages Granted Elsewhere, State Court Rules". BuzzFeedNews. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  28. "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. 
  29. Pistor, Nicholas (June 26, 2014). "Battle over same-sex marriages in St. Louis headed to court". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  30. Salter, Jim (September 29, 2014). "St. Louis Challenge to Gay Marriage Ban in Court". ABC News. Associated Press. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  31. 31.0 31.1 Priddy, Bob (July 4, 2014). "Same sex marriage ban fight moves to KC". KMAland. Retrieved September 25, 2014. 
  32. "ACLU challenges Missouri ban on gay marriage". KSDK. Associated Press. June 27, 2014. Retrieved September 25, 2014. 
  33. Toler, Lindsay (August 8, 2014). "Missouri Same-Sex Marriage Case Moves Up to Federal Court". Riverfront Times. Retrieved September 25, 2014. 
  34. Human Rights Campaign: Missouri Adoption Law, accessed April 14, 2011
  35. Missouri General Assembly: Missouri Human Rights Act, Mo. Rev. Stat. 213.010, et seq. (Supp. 2010), accessed April 14, 2011
  36. Messenger, Tony (March 23, 2010). "Gay discrimination measure advances in Mo. House". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  37. Young, Virginia (May 17, 2013). "Senate advances gay rights bill for first time ever". St Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved May 18, 2013. 
  38. Missouri General Assembly: Missouri Revised Statutes Section 557.035, accessed April 9, 2011
  39. http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2011/PPP_Release_MO_09161118.pdf. Retrieved 2013-11-02.  Missing or empty |title= (help)