The same day the Kansas governor vowed to protect “religious freedom,” Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed an executive order to ensure state agencies are implementing last month’s Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.
“The ruling was an affirmation of some of our most fundamental values,” Nixon said at a press conference at the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City, “that all of our citizens have the right to equal opportunity and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”
Nixon’s action also rescinds an earlier order allowing same-sex couples married in other states to file joint tax returns. Nixon issued that order two years ago so couples filing joint federal returns wouldn’t have to file separate Missouri returns. At the time, the state banned same-sex marriage.
Nixon called the executive order “necessary” because there are so many state agencies who must react in the change in legal status for same-sex couples, from the Department of Family Services to the Department of Insurance.
“We have over 50,000 employees working all over the state,” Nixon said. “I think it’s extremely clear, from the very top, that in all of the forms we have, in all of the interactions we have, in all of the issues we deal with … we are going to embrace what is the correct ruling of the state, and we’re going to do it immediately.”
Though some Missouri counties were slow to issue marriage licenses in the days after the high court’s ruling, Nixon says he believes those problems have been fixed. (See this map tracking the compliance of Missouri counties as of last week.)
He added that if a lower court would try to deny a same-sex couple the rights they’re entitled to as a married couple, he anticipates swift intervention now that the Supreme Court has weighed in.
“A lot of the folks that have been active legally in this area have been appropriately persistent to make sure it was implemented in all areas,” Nixon said.
Nixon also is renewing calls for the legislature to pass the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, or MONA, to ensure lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals can’t be fired for their sexual orientation. The measure had the support of state senators two years ago but wasn’t taken up in the House.
“I think the decision by the court fundamentally changes the discussion,” Nixon said.
Also Tuesday, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed an executive order of his own, saying religious groups and clergy can’t be forced to marry same-sex couples. But all Kansas counties are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and the state is permitting government workers to add their same-sex spouses to state-sponsored insurance plans.