by Jim Salter, AP
(St. Louis) (AP) – Some Missouri counties still won’t issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite last week’s Supreme Court ruling, prompting an advocacy group to threaten legal action Wednesday to force compliance.
Katie Stuckenschneider of St. Louis-based PROMO, which advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality, said the organization is working with the American Civil Liberties Union in weighing possible lawsuits if counties don’t comply.
The Supreme Court ruled Friday that marriage is a constitutional right equally held by all Americans. A few counties nationwide are refusing to issue licenses to same-sex couples, mainly in the Bible Belt and the Midwest. PROMO’s website has a map that shows two dozen of Missouri’s 114 counties aren’t doing so.
But Jan Jones, president of the Recorders Association of Missouri, said virtually all counties in Missouri plan to start issuing licenses to same-sex couples. Some are waiting for the arrival of new certificates or software to print new certificates, since the old ones cited Missouri law that previously defined marriage as between a man and a woman, she said.
At least one county is outright refusing to issue licenses, though. Linda Blessing, recorder of deeds in Schuyler County in northeast Missouri, cited religious reasons.
“That is a decision I’ve made,” Blessing said. “Biblically, I think it’s incorrect. I think the decision that the Supreme Court made was wrong.”
It wasn’t immediately clear if the state could force Blessing to comply. A message left with the Missouri Attorney General’s office was not immediately returned, but legal experts are dubious that religious freedom arguments will protect public officials.
No gay couples have requested a marriage license in the county that’s near the Iowa border, but Stuckenschneider said there is a couple there waiting for clarity on how to proceed. The couple declined an interview request.
In southeast Missouri, Pemiscot County Recorder of Deeds Pam Strawbridge said she will reluctantly issue licenses, “if I have to.”
“It’s just my religious beliefs. I don’t think it’s right, but I will follow the law,” she said.
Oregon County Recorder Dawn Holman initially held out because the licenses on hand still include language prohibiting same-sex marriage. With no money in the budget for new licenses, her office in southwest Missouri is volunteering to cross out that wording with a pen if the couple requests.
“We will just have to use what we have,” she said.
The same issue has forced Vernon County to upgrade its software to print new licenses, Recorder of Deeds Doug Shupe said. He expects the county to start issuing licenses by the end of the week.
“I’m not refusing,” Shupe said. “We’re trying to make it right for them.”
(Little Rock) (AP) – At least two Arkansas counties have not issued same-sex marriage licenses as clerks with religious objections struggle to comply with state and federal orders.
Cleburne and Randolph county officials said Wednesday that they haven’t had gay couples seek licenses, but it’s unclear if any such request would be granted.
The Cleburne County clerk resigned Tuesday after voicing objections to Friday’s Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. County Judge Jerry Holmes says it’s unclear if deputy clerks will issue licenses to gay couples.
Randolph County Clerk Rhonda Blevins said Wednesday she wasn’t sure if she would issue licenses to gay couples and is seeking direction from God.
The Yell County clerk considered resigning but says she decided to stay because her departure wouldn’t change the ruling.
by Summer Ballentine, AP
(Jefferson City) (AP) – Kansas City Republican Bev Randles and Democratic state Rep. Tommie Pierson said this week that they’re joining the race for Missouri lieutenant governor in 2016.
Randles announced her candidacy Wednesday in a video, touting her childhood growing up in Sikeston, a city of less than 17,000 in the state’s southeast corner. Pierson, a pastor, told St. Louis Public Radio on Tuesday of his plans to run at the urging of clergy members.
Randles and Pierson join Springfield doctor and attorney Brad Bradshaw, a Democrat who said in May that he’s running for the office.
Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has said he’s considering a run for governor, which could mean an open race for lieutenant governor. Kinder’s campaign treasurer was not immediately available to comment Wednesday.
Randles, a 42-year-old Kansas City attorney, formerly served as chairwoman of the Missouri Club for Growth, a conservative group largely funded by wealthy political activist Rex Sinquefield. She’s far ahead of her competitors in terms of funding, receiving a $1 million lump sum donation from Sinquefield in December, which appears to be the largest single donation from an individual to a candidate in state history.
Pierson, a 69-year-old pastor at Greater St. Mark Family Church in St. Louis, said he decided to run after being urged by clergy members. Pierson preached to church members in November after some gathered there following a grand jury decision not to indict the white officer who fatally shot a black 18-year-old in Ferguson, which sparked another round of protests.
Pierson, of Bellefontaine Neighbors, first was elected to the House in 2010. He also worked for more than three decades at General Motors.
If either is elected, Randles or Pierson would become the state’s first black statewide elected official. Both said that didn’t play a role in their decisions, but the potential to make history is weighing on their minds.
Randles’ video said she wants all Missouri residents to have opportunities for success, “no matter what part of the state they are from, no matter what their economic circumstances are, and no matter the color of their skin.” She said if successful, her campaign could help change what she called the “bad rap” the GOP can get “for not having enough people in it who aren’t middle-aged white guys.”
Pierson said it would be “quite an honor” to make history as the first black statewide elected official.
(Mountain Home) – The Baxter County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Baxter County man in connection with an incident that occurred Friday, June 26, involving shots being fired at vehicle with three occupants inside.
An occupant of the vehicle called 911 around 4:18 PM saying she and others in the vehicle was being followed and chased in the Rodney area by suspects in a red Dodge pickup truck and were being shot at. The victims continued driving down to Highway 177 and turned south toward Izard County. They pulled into the County Line Liquor Store at 8443 Highway 177 South, where the suspects in the Dodge truck rammed into the rear of the car the victims were in. The victims in the car were an adult male, an adult female, and a 6-year-old child.
Afterward, the adult male victim from the car got out and engaged in a hand-to-hand fight with the suspect who was driving the truck, who was later identified as 36-year-old Roger Peckenpaugh. Two other people inside the truck jumped out and fled into the woods before police arrived.
Police arrived and arrested Peckenpaugh, who allegedly told them that he had shot the vehicle to “mark it” and find it later on, and rammed the car to “see what was going on”.
After being hospitalized for a short time due to injuries sustained in the fight, Peckenpaugh was booked into the Baxter County Detention Center on Tuesday, June 30 on three felony counts of aggravated assault and a felony count of unlawful discharge of a firearm.
He was released after posting $100,000 bond and will appear in the Circuit Court to answer on July 2.
Sheriff John Montgomery says additional arrests may be made in connection with this incident.
(Mountain Home) – A 44-year-old Mountain Home woman faces a variety of charges after a physical altercation on June 29.
44-year-old Susan Boyd was arrested after 3 PM and charged with felony terroristic threatening, felony domestic battery, two counts of misdemeanor domestic battery, and misdemeanor resisting arrest.
The Baxter County Sheriff’s Office reports that they received a call before 3 PM June 29 of a physical domestic located on Westridge Road west of Mountain Home. While deputies were responding, 911 advised that they lost a connection with the caller several times during the conversation because of what sounded like a physical altercation.
Officers arrived at the residence and could hear screaming coming from the back yard. The suspect was being held by three individuals. A 12 inch knife was located nearby. Police say the suspect fought with officers and continued to resist arrest even after being handcuffed.
According to witness statements and physical evidence at the scene, the suspect fought with and struck three victims and attempted to stab one of the victims but the other two were able to wrestle the knife away from her. Threats were also allegedly made by the suspect to burn the home of one of the victims.
Boyd was booked into the Baxter County Jail on $25,000 bond pending her appearance in Baxter County Circuit Court on July 2 at 9 AM.
(Fort Smith) – A physician who practiced in West Plains and in the Arkansas listening area has pleaded guilty to attempting to have sex with a child.
Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced Tuesday that 68-year-old Donald Wayne Lamoureaux of Ash Flat pleaded guilty to the charge of coercion and enticement of a minor.
Lamoureaux previously practiced family medicine in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas and Dexter, Missouri and was also employed at the VA Medical facility in West Plains, Missouri.
According to court records, officers with the Fort Smith Police Department began an undercover online investigation on January 4, 2015 searching for people who were using the internet to target minors for illegal sexual activity. During the operation, an undercover officer made contact with Lamoureaux and posed as a woman offering her four-year-old daughter for sex in exchange for money. The officer and Lamoureaux scheduled a meeting for February 6, 2015 at a hotel in West Plains so he could sexually abuse the child. He was arrested upon arrival.
Sentencing will be held on a later date. Lamoureaux faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, up to a life sentence, not more than $250,000 fine, or both, and a term of supervised release of not less than five years which begins after release from prison.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Fort Smith Police Department, the West Plains Police Department, and the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force. Assistant United States Attorney Dustin Roberts is prosecuting the case for the United States.
(Jefferson City) (AP) – The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld two constitutional amendments guaranteeing the right to farm and the right to bear arms, but also said voters could go to court to challenge the summaries of ballot issues even after they’ve been approved by voters.
Judges could have voided the election results if they determined that the descriptions summarizing the two proposals on ballots last year were misleading. Instead, judges decided the voter-approved amendments will stay in place.
The court also ruled that residents can challenge ballot language after an election, potentially opening the door for questionable summaries to be disputed in later cases.
Lawyers from the Attorney General’s Office urged judges to dismiss the cases by arguing that critics were too late in filing their lawsuits. But judges said the current tight deadlines to challenge ballot summaries before an election, especially when proposed late in an election year by the Legislature, could make it difficult to challenge a measure before it hits the ballot.
Farmers, gun-control activists and other groups had sued the state over the two measures, saying the amendment summaries printed on ballots misled voters and didn’t delve into possible unintended consequences.
But the Supreme Court ruled that the summaries adequately hit the core of proposed changes.
The opinion on the firearms measure, known as Amendment 5, was rooted in part on the argument that it was intended to ensure rights already guaranteed to citizens by the U.S. Constitution.
Attorneys for opponents of the farming measure were not immediately available to comment Tuesday. In the past, they’ve argued that the amendment summary misled voters to believe that all Missouri residents – not just farmers and ranchers – would have the right to farm. The judges said the language was fair because the term “citizens,” which was used in the summary, also includes farmers.
The court’s ruling could give future critics of ballot summaries more time to challenge them in court.
(Houston) – A Raymondville resident suffered moderate injuries Tuesday afternoon after the vehicle he was driving ran off-road and overturned.
29-year-old William Goetz was taken from the scene of the accident to Texas County Memorial Hospital in Houston, according to a report from the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
The accident happened at 1:47 PM Tuesday on Highway 17, about 3 miles south of Houston.
(Jefferson City) (AP) – A new Missouri measure aims to help families financially support those with disabilities.
The bill signed Monday by Gov. Jay Nixon would allow someone with a disability or their family to open a tax-exempt savings account to pay for related expenses.
The measure also allows for others to give tax-deductible donations of as much as $8,000 to the program, which then would be invested. Married couples could give as much as $16,000.
Any money in someone’s savings account through the program wouldn’t count toward total assets when determining a person’s eligibility for Medicaid or other benefits.
A new board led by the state treasurer will be in charge of the savings account program.
The measure was sponsored by Republican Sen. Eric Schmitt of Glendale. He’s running for treasurer in 2016.
(West Plains) – Street crews in West Plains are busy working on Walker Street this week, according to city clerk Mallory Hawkins:
City hall and other non-essential city offices will be closed Friday for the observation of the Independence Day holiday on Saturday.