JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri House Democrat has introduced legislation that would repeal the state's ban on gay marriage.
Mike Colona, a House member from St. Louis who is gay, filed a proposed constitutional amendment this week that would go before voters in November. Colona was joined by 30 of his Democratic colleagues as co-sponsors.
Missouri in 2004 became the first state to enact a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage after the Massachusetts high court permitted gay marriage there. The Missouri measure passed with 70 percent of the vote.
With only seven weeks left in the legislative session, Colona's proposal is unlikely to gain traction. And Missouri Republicans, who control both legislative chambers, remain opposed to overturning the state's ban.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Opponents of same-sex marriage are scrambling to find effective responses, in Congress and state legislatures, to a rash of court rulings that would force some of America's most conservative states to accept gay nuptials.
Some gay-marriage foes are backing a bill introduced in Congress that would leave states in charge of their marriage policies, though it stands little chance of passing. They're also endorsing bills in statehouses — some intended to protect gay-marriage bans, and others to assert a right, based on religious freedom, to have nothing to do with gay marriages.
Federal judges have voided part or all of the same-sex marriage bans in Utah, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Virginia. Each ruling has been stayed pending appeals, and a final nationwide resolution may be a few years away.
CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois is about to join the ranks of states allowing same-sex marriage.
Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign a bill Wednesday making Illinois the 16th state to legalize gay marriage. The event will be held at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Illinois allowed civil unions in 2011. But it was a bumpy road to same-sex marriage in President Barack Obama's home state.
The Illinois Senate approved the measure in February, but the House sponsor said he didn't have the votes. It wasn't called until this month and passed by a close margin.
Those who opposed the measure included some of Illinois most well-recognized religious leaders.
Same-sex couples will be allowed to wed starting in June.
A Pennsylvania pastor charged under United Methodist law with officiating his son's same-sex marriage is scheduled to go on trial.
The Rev. Frank Schaefer, 51, could be defrocked if a jury comprised of fellow Methodist clergy convicts him of breaking his pastoral vows by officiating the 2007 ceremony in Massachusetts. Schaefer's supporters argue that church teaching on homosexuality is outmoded.
"Public opinion has changed very rapidly," said the pastor's son, Tim Schaefer, 29. "I hope this leads to a renewed conversation to revisit these policies to see if they are a little archaic."
The nation's largest mainline Protestant denomination accepts gay and lesbian members, but rejects the practice of homosexuality as "incompatible with Christian teaching." Clergy who perform same-sex unions risk punishment ranging from a reprimand to suspension to losing their minister's credentials.
The issue has split the church. Hundreds of Methodist ministers have publicly rejected church doctrine on homosexuality, and some of them face discipline for presiding over same-gender unions.
Critics say those pastors are sowing division within the church and ignoring the church's democratic decision-making process. Indeed, the denomination's top legislative body, the 1,000-member General Conference, reaffirmed the church's 40-year-old policy on gays at its last worldwide meeting in 2012.
The Methodists have set aside three days for Schaefer's trial, to be held at a church retreat in Spring City, Pa., beginning on Monday.
Tim Schaefer, of Hull, Mass., will testify on his father's behalf.
"(The defense wants) to highlight how hurtful the policy of the church is toward the LGBT community," he said.
Tim Schaefer struggled as a teenager, aware of Methodist doctrine on homosexuality. He said he prayed every night that "God would make me normal, take this away from me." He contemplated suicide but knew it would devastate his family. Schaefer finally told his parents at age 17, and he said they accepted him completely.
Years later, Schaefer knew he wanted his dad to perform his wedding ceremony.
"I remember thinking I have two choices: I can ask my dad and know I am putting him in a position ... where he would risk his career, or I could not ask my dad and really risk hurting his feelings. I think he would have been devastated if I hadn't asked him," he said.
Frank Schaefer has said he informed his superiors in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference that he planned to officiate his son's wedding, and again after the ceremony, which took place at a restaurant near Boston. He said he faced no discipline until April — about a month before the church's six-year statute of limitations was set to expire — when one of his congregants filed a complaint.
Schaefer could have avoided a trial if he had agreed to never again perform a same-gender wedding, but he declined because three of his four children are gay.
A Methodist trial resembles a secular trial in many ways, with counsel representing each side, a judge and jury, opening statements and closing arguments, and testimony and evidence.
The 13 member jury, called a "trial court," will be selected from a pool of 35. It takes at least nine votes to convict. If Schaefer is convicted, the trial moves to a penalty phase, with the same jury settling on a punishment. At least seven members of the jury must agree on the penalty.
Schaefer can appeal a conviction, but neither the church nor the person who brought the charge may appeal an acquittal.
With an executive order, Missouri joins rare company in the fight for marriage equality.
Governor Jay Nixon ordered to Department of Revenue to accept tax returns from same-sex couples who were married in another state. This move mirrors one made by the IRS that same-sex marriages in any state will be recognized for tax purposes.
Missouri is the first state that does not recognize the marriages of same-sex couples but gives those couples the ability to file jointly.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois House has approved legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry in the state.
The vote 61-54 vote sends the measure back to the Senate for minor changes to a version it approved on Valentine's Day. Gov. Pat Quinn says he'll sign it.
Fourteen states plus Washington D.C., allow same-sex marriage. Most recently, New Jersey, Minnesota and Rhode Island have allowed it.
The historic vote in Illinois came after months of arduous lobbying by gay-rights advocates, but the bill was never called for a House vote earlier this year because the sponsor said there weren't enough votes. Proponents say momentum had been building, especially as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Opponents say marriage should remain between a man and woman.