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Missourians Fight State on Same-Sex Marriage

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) - Four Missourians, suing as representatives of the Missouri Baptist Convention Christian Life Commission, sue Gov. Jay Nixon, claiming his executive order allowing same-sex couples to file joint tax returns is unconstitutional.

Lead plaintiff Kerry Messer sued the governor, the state and its Department of Revenue, in Cole County Court.

The plaintiffs, all men, also filed on behalf of the Missouri Family Policy Council.

Nixon issued the executive order in November, requiring the Department of Revenue to recognize a same-sex couple as married for the purpose of tax returns if the couple was married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriages.

Nixon said the order brought state tax law into compliance with federal tax law.

The plaintiffs claim Nixon's order violates a constitutional amendment state voters passed in 2004 that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. That amendment passed with 71 percent voting in favor of it.

The plaintiffs also claim that under the Missouri Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 p the state recognizes marriage only between a man and a woman; that any marriage not between a man and a woman is invalid; that no recorder shall issue a marriage license except to a man and a woman; and that same-sex marriages will not be recognized for any purpose in Missouri even when valid where contracted.

"By issuing Executive Order 13-14 on November 14, 2013, Governor Nixon has attempted to circumvent the clear public policy of this state mandating the historical legal definition of marriage, and to thwart the will of the people of the state of Missouri expressed in a recent Constitutional amendment as well as in state statutes," the lawsuit states.

"By implementing the Governor's edict, the Director and the Department of Revenue are violating and will continue to violate the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs and thousands of other Missouri citizens who supported and voted for Amendment 2 in 2004."

A spokesman for the governor declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment that the executive order is unconstitutional and want its implementation enjoined. They are represented by Michael K. Whitehead of Kansas City, Mo.

Missouri is the only state that prohibits same-sex marriage but will accept joint tax returns from same-sex couples, according to the Post-Dispatch.

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