On December 25, 2009, in Missouri, gay highway state trooper Dennis Engelhard was struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle when he stepped out of his patrol car to set up flares for the scene of another accident. The 10-year veteran left behind a life partner of fifteen years, as well as a son. Due to anti-gay Missouri marriage laws, however, which refuse to recognize same-sex domestic partnerships, no benefits will be provided to his partner. If Engelhard had been married, though, or, if his relationship had been legally recognized in the state of Missouri, his partner would have been entitled to benefits from the state pension system, totalling more than $28,000 a year. Benefits, which would have undoubtedly helped the widowed man in raising the son of Engelhard.
Although Missouri may be known as the "Show Me" state, as one can see from such examples, it certainly shows no support whatsoever of equal rights for it's homosexual residents. The Missouri gay community faces an uphill battle in trying to change the discriminatory Missouri law on marriage, especially after a constitutional amendment was enacted on November 2, 2004, which officially bans the marriage of same-sex partnerships.
The state's vote regarding the Missouri marriage laws and Missouri gay rights was the first chance that voters anywhere in the country, had to voice their opinions on the matter since the state of Massachusetts made history months earlier by being the first in the nation to allow gay, lesbian, and transgender couples to legally marry and receive marital rights. Although a majority vote in favor of the Missouri gay marriage ban was indeed expected, the turnout was roughly 400,000 more than anyone expected, especially for a primary election. Roughly 1.5 million residents of Missouri, gay and straight, stepped up to cast their vote on various issues, but the most controversial being the anti-gay Missouri marriage laws.
Since the 2004 passing of the constitutional amendment, Missouri Marriage Laws currently state the following:
It is public policy of the state of Missouri to only acknowledge marriage between between a man and a woman.
Any marriage not between a man and a woman is invalid.
No recorder can issue a marriage license, except to a man and a woman.
A marriage between two people of the same sex will not be acknowledged, for any purpose, in this state of Missouri, even if it is valid where contracted.