ST. LOUIS (CN) - Missouri's attorney general sued the St. Louis Recorder of Deeds to stop her from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
St. Louis City Recorder of Deeds Sharon Quigley Carpenter on June 25 issued marriage licenses to four same-sex couples in a ceremony held in Mayor Francis Slay's office.
The state sued Quigley Carpenter the next day in City Court, claiming she violated a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage passed by Missouri voters in 2004.
"It is our belief that the U.S. Constitution requires the recognition of same-sex marriages," Slay said in a press conference. "And Missouri law requires a recorder of deeds to issue a marriage license to any couple 'legally entitled' to such a license. We have created a clear, direct legal challenge to Missouri's unconstitutional ban on marriage equality."
The city's actions put Attorney General Chris Koster in an awkward position in filing for the injunction Thursday. Koster, a former Republican, is expected to seek the Democratic nomination for governor in 2016.
"While I personally support the goal of marriage equality, my duty as attorney general is to defend the laws of the state of Missouri," Koster said in a statement. "While many people in Missouri have changed their minds regarding marriage equality, Missourians have yet to change their constitution.
"Cases currently pending in Jefferson City and Kansas City regarding the constitutionality of Missouri's ban against same-sex marriage will be decided in the coming months. Regardless of my personal support for marriage equality, such vital questions cannot be decided by local county officials acting in contravention of state law.
"Therefore, I have asked the St. Louis Circuit Court to prevent the St. Louis City Recorder of Deeds from issuing such marriage licenses until this matter can be resolved by our state's judiciary. This question will likely be fully answered by our Missouri courts within the next 12-18 months."
The city agreed to temporarily stop issuing more licenses until courts have decided the matter, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.