Missouri's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, a St. Louis circuit judge ruled on Wednesday.
The decision comes a day after a federal judge ruled that neighboring Kansas also was violating the constitution by refusing to allow same-sex marriages. And it adds momentum to sweeping changes taking place across the country that allow same-sex couples to marry in more than 30 states.
"Marriage equality is now the law of the land in the state of Missouri," said Winston Calvert, the city attorney for St. Louis, who challenged the state's same-sex marriage ban. "This decision finally enforces that constitutional guarantee of equality for gay and lesbian couples."
In his ruling, St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison said that "the freedom to marry is a fundamental right and liberty deeply rooted in the history of the United States." He found that the state ban on same-sex marriage was not tied to a "legitimate government interest."
Missouri officials were attempting to uphold the state ban on same-sex marriages after the city of St. Louis issued marriage licenses in June to four same-sex couples.
(Reporting By Carey Gillam in Kansas City, Mo.; Editing by Sandra Maler)