Attorney Drey Cooley of the St. Louis-based law firm Capes, Sokol, Goodman & Sarachan, presented arguments to the Missouri Supreme Court in Marriage of: M.S. v. D.S., in which a man sought a divorce from his same-sex spouse, and the St. Louis County Circuit Court dismissed his petition based upon Missouri’s Defense of Marriage (“DOMA”) provisions, which prohibit recognition of same-sex marriages.
The Missouri Supreme Court heard the appeal of M.S., a man who sued in January for a divorce from the man he lawfully married in Iowa in 2012.
Presently, there is no statewide standard for same-sex marriage or divorce in Missouri, resulting in inconsistent treatment of same-sex marriages and divorces across the state.
Cooley suggested to the Court that Supreme Court action is necessary to resolve these inconsistencies, citing lower court cases that have granted same-sex couples the right to get married in St. Louis City and Jackson County, while same-sex couples have been denied the right to get married in most other counties.
Similarly, the lower courts in a few counties have granted same-sex couples divorces, while others have refused.
“This has resulted in a great deal of uncertainty and confusion regarding whether or not the marriages and divorces that have been granted will receive full legal recognition," Cooley stated in a press release.
“It has been reported in the local media by a ‘spokesperson’ for an organization supporting same-sex marriage that these lower court decisions from two Missouri counties are binding across the state,” Cooley said. “They are not, and have no precedential value except in those two counties.”
As a result, the status of those Missouri same-sex couples who have already been granted divorces or marriage licenses is in question until the Supreme Court resolves the issue, he said.
Cooley offered to the Court that it could provide access to divorce for same-sex couples without overturning DOMA, although he expressed the hope that the Court would take this opportunity to finally determine whether or not DOMA is to be enforced in Missouri.
Other Capes Sokol attorneys who brought this matter before the Missouri Supreme Court were Dan Sokol, Sheila Greenbaum and Stephen Davis, as part of the firm’s commitment to pro bono service to the community, the press release stated.