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Attorneys from Capes Sokol Challenge Missouri’s Defense of Marriage Laws

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Jefferson City, Missouri (December 3, 2014) (Press Release)Attorney Drey Cooley of St. Louis-based law firm Capes, Sokol, Goodman & Sarachan, P.C., presented arguments to the Missouri Supreme Court in In re the 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. With respect for the two marital partners involved in this action, they are not identified and will remain anonymous. They do not have children.

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. Cooley said, “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.”

“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 this issue.

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.

The Capes Sokol attorneys that brought this matter before the Missouri Supreme Court are Dan Sokol, Sheila Greenbaum, Drey Cooley and Stephen Davis, as part of the firm’s commitment to pro bono service to the community. The Court’s case summary and the briefs filed in this matter are available here.

Capes Sokol represents individuals, corporations, small and mid-sized businesses and nonprofit organizations in litigation, transactional work and alternative dispute resolution. The firm serves clients in 11 different practice areas.

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