Gov. Nixon issues executive order in favor of same sex couples

Governor Jay Nixon issued an executive order Thursday directing the Missouri Department of Revenue to accept all joint state tax returns filed by married couples, including same-sex couples who were married in another state.

Nixon told reporters the move came after an August decision by the Treasury Department and the IRS that same-sex couples would be treated as married for federal tax purposes regardless of where the couple lives. He said his order does not circumvent state law that currently defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. However, he said he would welcome an opportunity for voters to revisit the matter. He strongly suggested he personally would favor a measure legalizing same-sex marriage in the state of Missouri.

"I just don't think we should treat folks differently in this zone anymore," Nixon said. "I think if folks want to get married, they should be able to get married."

House Speaker Tim Jones, a Republican, attacked the Democratic governor's actions in a statement released later Thursday afternoon.

"The Governorâ??s job is to defend our stateâ??s constitution â?? 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," Jones said.

Missouri is so far the only state that does not recognize marriages of same-sex couples to still grant couples the ability to file jointly as married. Colorado and Oregon have also issued similar instructions; however, Colorado has state civil unions and Oregon recognizes out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples. Under the executive order, any federal exemptions or deductions that married couples can receive that are reflected in their federal adjusted gross income will therefore be reflected on their state tax return. However, the order does not change the eligibility for any state-level exemptions, deductions or credits.