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Eight Same-Sex Couples Suing Missouri

Eight same-sex couples have filed a lawsuit against the state of Missouri, challenging laws that deny legal recognition of their marriages.
KANSAS CITY, Mo.) Andy Schuerman and James Macdonald have been together for 12 years.

They were married in 2005 in Vancouver, Canada and have a 2-year-old daughter. They say all they want is to be recognized as a married couple.

"We feel like we're in a family that has second-class status and we are unwilling to settle for that," says Schuerman

Schuerman, who's a high school guidance counselor, says his family's biggest concern is for their daughter, Grace, who will soon turn 3.

They say it's unfair that her parents aren't protected, therefore they can't protect her.

"It's important for us to protect our daughter. We want to make sure that she has a family that's recognized legally and financially just like all of her friends who happen to have parents of different genders," added Schuerman.
 
The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed a lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of eight same-sex families. They say current laws are unfair and harmful.

"Each of them has an important story to tell, they've made a loving commitment to each other to protect each other to care for each other and they are not able to have that full protection," says Jeffrey Mittman, Executive Director for the ACLU of Missouri.

The couple says by standing up to lawmakers in the show-me state, they want to see action taken.

They believe they have enough support from the public to move forward and represent other couples in the state.

"People have shifted their view, it really has been expanded awareness and I think it's partly because of more exposure to LGBT families they see more of us on television and more of us are out at the work place," says James Macdonald.

The eight couples, some together for more than 30 years, and several raising children, are excluded from most state and some federal protections available to opposite-sex married couples.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs are Rothert and Grant Doty, of the ACLU of Missouri Foundation and Josh Block, with the national ACLU.

The plaintiff couples are:
 
·         Janice Barrier and Sherie Schild - married in 2009, and have been a couple for more than 30 years;
·         Lisa Layton-Brinker and JoDe Layton-Brinker - married in 2010, together for six years, their family includes three children, ages 17, 20, and 21;
·         Zuleyma Tang-Martinez and Arlene Zarembka - recently celebrated their 31st anniversary as a couple, and were married in 2005;
·         James MacDonald and Andrew Schuerman - together for 12 years, married in 2005, and raising their two-year-old daughter;
·         Elizabeth Drouant and Julikka LaChe - married in 2010, and together for 10 years;
·         Ashley Quinn and Katherine Quinn - together for eight years and married in 2010;
·         Adria Webb and Patricia Webb - married in 2010 and raising two children, aged 12 and 13; and
·         Alan Ziegler and LeRoy Fitzwater - have been a couple since 2001, and were married in 2008.

For a copy of the petition and to learn more about the couples included in the lawsuit, click here.
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