St. Louis officials have challenged Missouri's constitutional ban on gay marriage by issuing four same-sex marriage licenses in a City Hall ceremony. Four gay couples were married yesterday in the office of Mayor Francis Slay in a ceremony presided over by a municipal judge. But Attorney General Chris Koster went to court today seeking to stop the marriages. St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison denied a temporary restraining order but will consider whether to grant an injunction at a later date.
Burlison said St. Louis officials have agreed not to issue more marriage licenses to same-sex couples at this time and would do so in the future only after notifying the court and attorney general's office. State voters approved the constitutional ban on gay marriage in 2004. This is the first direct challenge to that ban, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. "If we weren’t doing this, no other city in Missouri would ... It makes me proud as a citizen and as a mayor," says Slay, but a long legal battle is expected that, city officials say, could go all the way to the Supreme Court. "I, and all of us standing here, are doing this to force the issue and to get the law settled for everyone who wants to get married in the state of Missouri," Slay says. (Read more gay marriage stories.)