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Same-sex marriage debates in Washington could affect Missouri

A landmark case in the Supreme Court has opponents and supporters of same-sex marriage speaking up. The issue is sweeping the nation as the court could potentially change laws across the United States, including Missouri.

California’s Proposition 8, which overturned the legalization of same sex marriage in California, was up for debate Tuesday. On Wednesday another historic case, the Defense of Marriage Act, will be in the Supreme Court’s hands. While hearing the debates is important for many people in Missouri, political experts told ABC 17 News it likely won’t make a difference just yet.

“You have people very excited about the possibility that their relationships could be recognized,” said A.J. Bockelman, who is the Executive Director of PROMO, a Missouri Advocacy group for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders.

For people in Mid-Missouri, the talk of same sex marriage is changing as the justices take up the issue for the first time. Currently in the state, gay couples are not recognized by the law

“You feel second class you don’t feel like you are on par with other friends and family that are in heterosexual relationships,” said Bockelman. Laws in Missouri specifically define marriage as only between a man and a woman, however many said they’re fighting for the definition to include more.

“They are asking the Supreme Court rule that marriage is a fundamental right, protected by the 14 amendment sequel protection clause and that it would apply to couples of the same sex,” said David Roebuck, who is a political science professor at Columbia College.

While Proposition 8 is in the Federal Court’s hands, it does include a vast amount of outcomes. It could define same sex marriage as constitutional or not constitutional. It could also be narrowed to only affect only California or states with civil unions and increase those rights. There is always the option the case could also be dismissed.

With so many outcomes, only one would directly affect Missouri. Making same sex marriage a right would over-ride state laws here and across the country. However, experts said they don’t see that happening yet.

“Very unlikely that the Supreme Court is going to make a sweeping decision that would affect all 40 state laws or 39 state laws at this point,” said Roebuck.

Political experts said the decision will likely have a narrow outcome and only affect California. However, they admit you never know what the Supreme Court will decide.

Wednesday’s case would affect how those in states that recognize already same sex marriage will receive federal benefits. Decisions on both cases are expected in June.

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