Same-Sex Couples Fight For Recognition

Kati Kokal – 23 News Staff Writer

The LGBTQ community and allies fought a new battle this week in Mid-Missouri as ten homosexual couples are now challenging the state for recognition of their marriages after Missouri having same-sex marriages be illegal for almost a decade.

On Thursday morning the Judge J. Dale Youngs heard opening arguments, brought by The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in partnership with ten Missouri couples.

The couples involved were married in one of the nineteen states that have passed legislation making homosexual marriages legal and recognizable by the local government, most common being Iowa and Illinois.

The ten couples, who are already married, are fighting for legal protections like the right to share a room in a nursing home, or reflection of marital status on a spouse’s death certificate.

One of the couples, Alan Ziegler, 42, and LeRoy Fitzwater, 43, were married in California in 2008 and moved to St. Louis last year. The couple decided to participate in the lawsuit when Fitzwater had an emergency appendectomy in 2013 and Zeigler was not notified.

As presented, the couples have chosen not to fight for the legalization of same-sex marriage n Missouri, but simply the recognition of their marriages from other states.

The other couples include:
– Janice Barrier and Sherie Schild; married in 2009, after being together for 30 years.
– Lisa Layton-Brinker and JoDe Layton-Brinker; married in 2010, together for 6 years, their family includes three children, ages 17, 20 and 21.
– Zuleyma Tang-Martinez and Arlene Zarembka; recently celebrated their 31st anniversary as a couple, married in 2005.
– James MacDonald and Andrew Schuerman; together for 12 years, married in 2005, raising their 2-year-old daughter.
– Elizabeth Drouant and Julikka LaChe; married in 2010, together for 10 years.
– Ashley Quinn and Katherine Quinn; together for 8 years, married in 2010.
– Adria Webb and Patricia Webb; married in 2010, raising two children, ages 12 and 13.

On MU’s campus, a diverse student population responded fervently to the beginning of the hearing on Thursday.

“It feels like this law discounts our relationships, marriages, and LGBTQ culture.” said MU student Guillermo.

Although the verdict has not yet been decided, the LGBTQ community is optimistic, hoping for a legal precedent that leads to the legalization of same-sex marriages in Missouri within the next year.

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