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Popular Topics in The Arts
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Topics In the News
 
Missouri Governor Endorses Marriage Equality
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 11/15/13
Last updated on: 11/15/13
 
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Gov. Jay Nixon.

At a news conference on November 14, 2013, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon endorsed marriage equality. The press conference was called to announce that he had issued an executive order directing the state Department of Revenue to accept the combined tax returns of gay and lesbian couples legally married under the laws of other states.

As Rudi Keller reports in the Columbia, Missouri Daily Tribune, Nixon issued the executive order as a reaction to the June ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court declaring the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. That law barred same sex couples who were legally married from receiving any marriage-based federal benefits, such as tax exemptions and Social Security payments.

Under Missouri law, couples who file a joint federal return are required to file a combined state tax return. The executive order clarifies that the law applies to all couples.

The executive order does not alter state restrictions on same-sex marriages, which are banned by an amendment to the Missouri Constitution. "This is not about the definition of marriage, this is about the structure of our tax code and Missouri law, which is clear," Nixon said.

During the press conference, Nixon was asked about his views on gay marriage. He replied that they have changed over the years.

"Many Missourians, including myself, are thinking about these issues of equality in new ways and reflecting on what constitutes discrimination. For me, that process has led to the belief that we shouldn't treat folks differently because of who they are."

He added, "The question of whether same-sex marriage should be recognized in Missouri is a separate issue, one that I hope quite frankly Missourians have another chance to visit."

Missouri voters approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2004.

Nixon was first elected Governor in 2008 and was re-elected in 2012. He served as Missouri's Attorney General from 1993 to 2009.

On October 29, 2013, as reported here, the Missouri Supreme Court issued a shocking decision denying survivor benefits to the partner of a state trooper killed in the line of duty. The decision, released on October 29, 2013, said that since Corporal Dennis Engelhard, who died in 2009, was not married to Kelly Glossip, his partner of 15 years, Glossip is not entitled to survivor benefits from the state. In a classic example of circular reasoning, the majority in the 5-2 decision said that Glossip was not discriminated against on the basis of his sexual orientation, but was denied benefits simply because he and Engelhard were not married, as though the fact that same-sex marriage is banned in Missouri had nothing to do with sexual orientation or with the fact that Engelhard and Glossip were not married.

In an astonishing act of judicial irresponsibility, the majority on the Court tailored its decision specifically to avoid ruling on the crucial questions at the heart of the suit and of justice.

 
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