Missouri is not known for being the most liberal state in the country. In fact, it’s typically known to be quite the opposite when it comes to gay rights. In 2004, voters passed a constitutional amendment and placed a ban on same sex marriage. And, according to a study by Phillip Bump of The Atlantic Wire, only 36% of Missouri’s voters approve of same sex marriage.
I have covered a lot of LGBT issues recently, one issue being the newly Senate approved Employment Non-Discrimination Act which would prevent employers from discriminating against employees for sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently, 33 states can fire employees for gender identity, and 29 states can fire employees for sexual orientation. Missouri, sadly, occupies both of those categories.
So, it comes as a huge surprise that Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) announced his full support for marriage equality. Nixon told reporters:
“If folks want to get married, they should be able to get married. Many Missourians, including myself, are thinking about these issues of equality in new ways and reflecting on what constitutes discrimination. For me, that process has led to the belief that we shouldn’t treat folks differently because of who they are.”
Nixon announced during a press conference yesterday that for tax purposes, the state of Missouri will now recognize all legally married couples — opposite-sex or same-sex – and allow them to file jointly.
This is a giant leap forward for Missouri and everyone who supports marriage equality. If a strongly conservative based Missouri is willing to take the step forward, then there is hope for many more conservative states to come.