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Judge Denies Attempt to Stop Gay Couples Joint Taxes

Gay couples in Missouri who were married in other states may still file their taxes jointly.

On Friday, a judge denied a conservative group in its attempt to immediately bar same-sex couples from filing their state tax returns together, a right granted by Gov. Jay Nixon’s executive order issued last year.

Kyle Piccola of PROMO, a state gay rights group, said he wasn’t surprised by the ruling.

“Gov. Nixon’s executive order was pragmatic in the sense that it allows couples – all married couples – to file jointly in an efficient and easy way,” he said. “I think the judge found that also to be pragmatic.”

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem in Jefferson City, in turning down a request for a temporary restraining order, said in a written ruling that the conservative groups who claimed they would suffer irreparable harm did not prove any injury.

Beetem did not take a position on whether the legal challenge, which will move forward, will be successful. The challenge was filed by the Missouri Family Policy Council and the Missouri Baptist Convention Christian Life Commission.

Mike Whitehead, an attorney for the conservative groups, told the Associated Press that they were not seeking to affect the tax filing process and that the decision does not change their legal position.

"We are glad the judge set a May 2 date to schedule these next steps as soon as possible," Whitehead said. "It is the final judgment that is important."

The next hearing in the case is set for May 2.

Despite Nixon’s order, Missouri does not recognize marriages from other states and has a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The ruling provides certainty for Missourians filing their 2013 taxes, the governor’s office said.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
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