Nixon orders agencies to implement same-sex marriage ruling, Brownback issues order to protect gay marriage foes

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Gov. Jay Nixon has signed an executive order directing state agencies to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision establishing a Constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

Nixon said Tuesday at a news conference in Kansas City he wants to ensure that the ruling is implemented around the state.

“This landmark ruling was a historic step forward for our nation, and it has some very real benefits for families here in Missouri,” Gov. Nixon said. “As Governor, I’m committed to protecting the rights of all Missourians, and that’s why this morning I am signing Executive Order 15-04 to ensure the Supreme Court’s ruling is implemented uniformly throughout state government.”

The executive order makes clear that local governments have to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling. The order also rescinds a previous executive order directing the Revenue Department to accept the jointly-filed state tax returns of same-sex couples legally married in other states. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision makes that order unnecessary.

Nixon also reiterated his call for state lawmakers to pass the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation.

“Same-sex couples now have the right to get married, but here in Missouri, individuals can still be fired for being gay.  That’s wrong, it’s not who we are – and it must change,” Gov. Nixon said. “That’s why I’m reiterating my call for the General Assembly to pass the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination against LGBT Missourians in employment, housing and public accommodations.”

On the same day, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback issued an executive order aimed at protecting clergy, religious leaders and religious groups from being penalized by the state for opposing same-sex marriage.

The order said the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last month legalizing gay marriage across the nation has the potential to infringe upon religious liberties.

The state and U.S. constitutions protect religious liberties, and Kansas enacted a law in 2013 saying that state and local agencies can’t substantially limit someone’s exercise of religion without a compelling reason.

But the order says state agencies can’t alter contracts with individuals or religious groups, change their tax status or deny them licenses or tax breaks based on their refusal to perform same-sex marriages or provide services for such marriages.