JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Governor Jay Nixon issued an executive order Tuesday afternoon that orders all state agencies to comply with the the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges, which extended the right to marriage to same-sex couples.
Executive Order 15-04 officially states that “all departments, agencies, boards and commissions in the executive branch … immediately take all necessary measures to ensure compliance with the Obergefell decision in all aspects of their operations.”
PROMO, Missouri’s statewide gay, lesbian and transgender advocacy group, lauded the decision.
“We are grateful for Gov. Nixon’s leadership in recognizing the rights of LGBT Missourians, and we look forward to working with him and his Administration to fully implement marriage equality across the state,” PROMO executive director A.J. Bockelman said in a press release.
While most county offices in the state have opened their doors to same-sex couples since the June 26 decision, two counties have not yet begun to give marriage licenses to gay or lesbian couples.
Cape Girardeau County Recorder Drew Blattner has been advised by his lawyers to wait 25 days for the Supreme Court’s decision to become final, while Schuyler County Recorder Linda Blessing is refusing to issue licenses to same-sex couples due to a religious objection to the decision.
State Representative Jeremy LaFaver (D-Kansas City) believes those cases are merely anomalies.
“The entire state is on the same page,” he said. “You’re seeing less than a handful of people who are still holding onto the past. Missouri, by and large, has sent a message over the last several months that we’re ready to move forward.”
LaFaver noted the state has been moving in a more progressive direction since the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA) was passed by the Senate in 2013. MONA would extend the Missouri Human Rights Statute to include sexual orientation, thus protecting LGBT people from housing and employment discrimination in the state.
Still, opposition to the ruling has popped up across the country, especially from conservatives hoping to maintain their religious freedoms. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback implemented the changes at the government level, but he also took action to prevent clergy or religious institutions from being forced to participate in anything that went against their beliefs.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and many other conservative leaders have also vociferously refuted the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Missouri’s constitution also currently contains text that explicitly defines marriage as an act between a man and a woman. The Obergefell decision essentially rendered that language moot.
The order also rescinds Executive Order 13-14 to remove a redundancy that guaranteed same-sex couples married in other states could receive tax benefits in Missouri.