Missouri must recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who have wed legally in other places, a state court judge ruled on Friday in the latest case to address gay rights in the United States.
Jackson County Circuit Judge J. Dale Youngs ruled that a state ban on recognition of legal same-sex marriages violated the rights of gay couples to the same protections heterosexual couples have under the U.S. Constitution.
Youngs did not address Missouri's ban on same-sex marriage in the state, which was not part of the lawsuit brought by 10 married gay couples from Missouri.
"Our hearts are filled with jubilation," married plaintiffs Janice Barrier and Sherie Schild said in a statement.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is reviewing the decision and had no immediate reaction, a spokesman said.
The Missouri judge's ruling comes as the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether to take up the question of gay marriage during its next term, which starts on Monday. There are seven cases pending before the court concerning bans in five states.
Gay marriage is legal in 19 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Judges in more than a dozen other states have issued rulings that would strike down bans on same-sex marriage, which remain intact while the cases are on appeal.
(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Editing by Sandra Maler)