During a press conference announcing
that Missouri will allow married gay couples to file combined state
tax returns, Governor Jay Nixon endorsed extending marriage rights to
gay and lesbian couples in the state.
Nixon, a Democrat, announced Thursday
that he had directed the Department of Revenue to accept the combined
returns of gay couples married in a state where such unions are
legal, 15 before the end of the year plus the District of Columbia.
“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, a reference to state law which requires couples who file a
joint federal return to file a combined state tax return.
Following the Supreme Court's June
decision striking down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act
(DOMA), the federal government announced it will recognize the
marriages of gay couples for the purpose of benefits. The decision
put pressure on so-called piggyback states without marriage equality
to allow married gay couples to file jointly.
When asked his views on the subject,
Nixon said he supported treating “folks” equally.
“Many Missourians, including myself,
are thinking about these issues of equality in new ways and
reflecting on what constitutes discrimination,” Nixon said. “For
me, that process has led to the belief that we shouldn't treat folks
differently because of who they are.”
“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,” Nixon added.
Voters in 2004 approved an amendment to
the Missouri Constitution defining marriage as a heterosexual union.