It’s a long way from all encompassing, but Gov. Jay Nixon, a Missouri Democrat, is pushing gay marriage to the forefront. The Governor used a recent ruling by the Supreme Court to make all marriage equal in a very red state.
In June this year, the Supreme Court ruled that the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act violates the equal protection rights of same-sex families. The Treasury Dept. took the ruling one step further when Secretary Jacob Lew made an announcement that, “Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide. It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve.”
In a news conference on November 14, Gov. Nixon said he would issue an executive order directing the Missouri Department of Revenue to accept joint tax returns from all married couples, including same-sex couples who were married in other states.
Nixon said the decision to move on the Tax Code was made “after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning the Defense of Marriage Act earlier this year, and is consistent with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s decision to also accept returns from gay couples.”
Like so many red-state legislatures, Missouri had preemptively passed a state constitutional amendment, in 2004, that limited a marriage to one man and one woman. Nixon explained that what he was doing did not violate anything in the Missouri constitution concerning marriage. What he was doing had to do with the U.S. Tax Code.
According to the governor’s office, “the decision will not open state-level exemptions, deductions, or credits to same-sex couples, but it will prevent them from having to file their taxes differently at the state level than they do at the national level.”
Gov. Nixon found a way around a state amendment by attacking the tax codes. The Governor is making Missouri the first state to recognize same-sex marriages for tax purposes and using an executive order to accomplish the task.
By ruling on the inequality of the Defense of Marriage Act, the Supreme Court has opened the door for all married couples, regardless of sexual preference, to enjoy the tax breaks the I.R.S. bestows on married couples in the U.S. We have finally joined the rest of the civilized world who get the tax benefits marriage provides. The Court has also provided an avenue that says, “If the I.R.S. says we are equal, then everything pertaining to a marriage certificate must be equal, no matter what state you are in.”
Richard Andrew is a guest blogger for Ring of Fire.