As the federal government moves this week to increase legal benefits for same-sex couples, Missouri house members move also with articles of impeachment on Governor Jay Nixon. Currently the state of Missouri does not recognize same-sex marriage. The Missouri Constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Nixon ordered state tax returns to be accepted when filed by legally married same-sex couples. Representative Nick Marshall stated in an interview, that this went directly against the state constitution.
Governor Nixon signed an executive order last November, allowing same-sex couples who live in Missouri to file a joint tax return. Nixon stated that he did so because the Federal government recognizes this type of marriage, and since the state tax return is tied directly into the federal tax return it would be impossible for couples in Missouri to file married on the federal form but not on the state form. Nick Marshall, a State Representative out of Parkville, Missouri, stated that this goes directly against the Missouri Constitution as his reason for bringing about articles of impeachment.
Jake Hummel, House Minority Leader from St. Louis called the filing “bogus,” and stated that “the House Republican Caucus has been taken over by a crazy wing.” Hummel added that there were other serious issues that needed to be dealt with and that he didn’t feel the House Republicans were serious individuals.
This is occurring as the federal government expands rights of same-sex couples. Attorney General Eric Holder stated that a memo will be issued via the Justice Department on Monday. It is said that this memo will extend the legal recognition of same-sex marriage into matters such as bankruptcy, survivors’ benefits, and prison visits. The President of the National Organization of Marriage, Brian Brown, issued a public statement criticizing this move as threat to state sovereignty.
With 17 states currently recognizing same-sex marriage, and 33 states with specific bans on the issue, supporters state that the Justice Department and Holder’s move is a bold step forward in assuring equal rights. However, opponents of same-sex rights, like Marshall, will continue to fight them and see this as justification to bring about articles of impeachment. Republicans believe that executive measures like the one signed by Nixon to be a power grab by Democrats and an overall threat to state sovereignty.
Missouri Speaker Tim Jones said in an interview that these allegations of Jay Nixon acting with “willful neglect of duty” should be taken seriously; while the Governor’s office released a statement that it was nothing more than a publicity stunt by state Republicans. The Federal Government has yet to respond to these allegations that increasing same-sex rights will interfere with state’s rights. Holder compared the current struggle facing the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered community to that of the civil rights movement of the 60’s, and said that his Justice Department would not stay on the sidelines for such a momentous occasion.
Missouri is not the only state that is fighting same-sex rights. Virginia is also going through its own battle, with state Republicans ready to defend the same-sex marriage ban. Florida has also seen a lawsuit filed recently on behalf of same-sex couples seeking marriage rights. Missouri, however, is the only state at this time to include articles of impeachment, in their battle against same-sex rights.
By Rachel Woodruff