Governor Jay Nixon (D) has issued an executive order directing the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) to accept jointly filed state income tax returns from same-sex married couples living in the Show-Me State.
Governor Nixon says the order is necessary for two reasons – because Missouri law requires married couples who file joint federal tax returns to also file joint state returns, and because of the U.S. Treasury Department's recent decision to recognize same-sex marriages, even for couples living in states that don't recognize gay marriage.
"What we're doing today doesn't violate Missouri's constitution," Nixon told reporters. "This is not about the definition of marriage, this is about the structure of our tax code and Missouri law, which is clear (in that) legally married couples who file joint federal returns must also file joint state returns."
Nixon added that he thinks people should not be treated differently because of who they are.
"The question of whether same-sex marriages should be recognized in Missouri is a separate issue, one that I hope that, quite frankly, voters have another opportunity to visit," Nixon said.
The Governor's executive order was met with praise from the group PROMO, which advocates for Missouri's LGBT community. In an emailed statement, Executive Director A.J. Bockelman said, "We applaud the Governor for giving clarity to same-sex couples and providing guidance on how we complete tax return information in the state of Missouri."
Former Missouri House Member Tracy McCreery, who also advocates for LGBT issues, responded to the Governor's executive order via Twitter:
A BFD! MO Gov says will issue exec order to accept tax returns from same-sex couples living in MO but married in other states...
Meanwhile, House Speaker Tim Jones (R, Eureka) blasted the Governor's decision, saying it "defies Missouri voters." Jones issued the following statement:
"Once again, Governor Nixon is trying to play to all sides of every issue, indulging his liberal ideals while hedging his bets by saying the courts have forced his hand. The Governor's job is to defend our state's constitution – including the constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, that was passed overwhelmingly in this state - not to surrender to the whims of the Obama administration. This executive order is nothing but an attempt to violate the voters' will, unlawfully ignoring a constitutional amendment to provide the Governor's liberal allies a policy victory. Furthermore, I would call upon Gov. Nixon to supply the legal opinion from Attorney General Koster providing the justification for the action he took today in ignoring the Constitution of the State of Missouri."
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport