Gay MarriageEvery time a court makes a decision, there is the possibility that the law will change. This is what happened today in Missouri when a federal judge decided that Missouri's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Ortrie Smith's ruling effectively struck down Missouri's gay marriage ban, and it should provide a pathway for homosexuals to get married in the midwest state. At this time, though, the ruling is stayed pending finalization of the judgment, as there could be the possibility of appeals.

Decision Follows 2 Similar Rulings in Missouri

The ruling follows two other rulings in favor of same-sex unions in Missouri. First, on Oct. 3, a district court judge ruled that same-sex marriages would be honored in Missouri if they were performed in another state. Second, on Nov. 5, a circuit court judge in the state decided similarly on another matter, that laws prohibiting gay marriage are unconstitutional. The Nov. 5 decision was only applicable in the St. Louis area; however, it clearly spelled out that gay couples have the right to obtain marriage licenses in the city. Before noon on Thursday, 10 couples had already applied for their licenses.

32 States Currently Allow Same-Sex Marriage

Before today, a total of 32 states have legalized gay marriage. Adding Missouri to the list will bring the tally to 33. At this time, almost 59 percent of people living in the United States live in areas where they have the right to enter into a gay marriage. Soon, more than 64 percent of the United States will be living in states that have the freedom to marry as a same-sex couple.

Prior to entering into a marriage gay couples may wish to consult with a family law attorney to find out what their marriage rights are in their state. Same-sex married couples who wish to relocate to a new state may also wish to check with an attorney to find out how their move may affect their marital union. Divorce proceedings for same-sex couples who relocate could also have complications, but a qualified family law attorney can help to explain what options gay couples have in their places of residence.