Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon did the right thing with an executive order instructing officials to accept tax returns filed jointly by same-sex couples who were legally married in other states.
It is in line with the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service deciding that legally married same-sex couples would be treated as married regardless of where they live. The state’s tax code also is linked to the federal government’s. Married couples who file joint federal returns must file state taxes jointly.
Nixon is pulling the state closer to legalizing gay marriage. However, his action goes against voters in 2004 making the state the first in the nation to have a constitutional amendment, banning gay marriage.
But that trend slowly is changing. The governor of Hawaii this week signed into law a bill that starting Dec. 2 allows gay couples living in Hawaii and tourists to marry in the state.
The Associated Press reports that an estimate from a University of Hawaii researcher says gay marriage will help tourism, adding $217 million over the next three years as Hawaii becomes a destination for same sex couples from other states. Imagine the wedding ceremonies, receptions and honeymoons in the islands by couples from the boiling red Sunflower and Show-Me states.
Hawaii joins the District of Columbia, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, where same sex marriage is legal. CNN reports that now more than 1 in 3 Americans live where same-sex marriage is legal.
And that’s not all. A 1996 Gallup poll found that 27 percent of Americans thought same-sex marriage should be legal. This year the support grew to 53 percent.
Why shouldn’t same sex marriage gain more support? President Barack Obama has endorsed it.
He also did away with the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of gays in the military. And the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated part of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Nixon is simply getting in front of the national parade. Perhaps soon the rest of Missouri will follow the trend and make gay marriage legal.
Think of the boost to tourism that would provide.