Pro-family leaders in Missouri have filed suit against Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, challenging his issuance of an unconstitutional executive order which subverts the institution of marriage. The lawsuit alleges that the
Governor has engaged in an ultra vires
exercise of power.
The litigation, filed in Cole County Circuit Court, seeks a declaratory judgment that Executive Order 13-14 violates Missouri's Constitution, and is therefore invalid. The legal action also seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting Governor Nixon and state officials from enforcing the order.
In mid-November, Nixon unilaterally ordered the Missouri Department of Revenue to permit same-sex "couples" who claim they were "married" in another state to file joint state income tax returns in Missouri. Nixon stated in his executive order that this was necessary because state statutes tie Missouri tax law inextricably to the federal tax code.
Nixon's edict followed action by the Obama Administration last fall. The Internal Revenue Service issued an arbitrary rule that the terms "husband" and "wife" in federal tax law would now be interpreted to include individuals of the same gender. Nixon's executive order mandated that Missouri Department of Revenue officials do the same, despite the fact that the IRS did not compel states to follow suit, nor did it have the authority to do so.
The Governor's dictatorial action stands in complete defiance of Article I, Section 33 of Missouri's Constitution. That section states "that to be valid and recognized in this state, a marriage shall exist only between a man and woman." Known as the Missouri Marriage Amendment, that provision was adopted by Missouri voters in August of 2004 by a resounding vote of 71 to 29 percent.
Nixon's brazen decree also contradicts Missouri law which states that "it is the public policy of this state to recognize marriage only between a man and a woman." Section 451.022 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri reads that "a marriage between persons of the same sex will not be recognized for any purpos
e in this state even when valid where contracted."
The lawsuit was filed by Kerry Messer, President of Missouri Family Network; Don Hinkle, Director of Public Policy for the Missouri Baptist Convention; Justin Mosher, Chairman of the Christian Life Commission of the Missouri Baptist Convention; and yours truly, Joe Ortwerth, Executive Director of the Missouri Family Policy Council.
"The Governor took an oath to uphold the Missouri Constitution, which includes our marriage definition," says Michael Whitehead, attorney for the plaintiffs. "His job is to enforce the Constitution as it is, not as he wishes it to be."
"If the Governor wishes to launch a campaign to repeal this section of our state Bill of Rights, he is welcome to try," Whitehead adds. "But for now, the people of Missouri have spoken, with landslide clarity. Until the people speak otherwise, the Governor should respect the rule of law and respect Missouri voters."
Nixon has in fact made clear that he has no respect for the values of Missouri families on the subject of marriage. At the same press conference at which Nixon announced his issuance of his "gay rights" executive
order, Nixon declared that he supports the repeal of Missouri's Marriage Amendment.
We are unaware of any previous Governor in the history of the state of Missouri who has dared to thumb his nose at the Constitution of the state and dictate his contrary personal public policy preferences by executive order. In fact, there is only one relevant Missouri Appeals Court case on record that even deals with the subject of executive orders.
By his reckless actions, Governor Nixon has engaged in public misconduct on two different levels. By acting to alter state law in contravention of the Constitution, Nixon has violated the separation of powers, usurping
the authority of the Missouri Legislature to determine public policy for our state.
Furthermore, by failing to fulfill his sworn constitutional responsibility to uphold and defend the State Constitution, Nixon has usurped the right of the people to establish the Supreme Law that governs our state.
The lawsuit will be argued before Circuit Judge Jon Beetem. Please be praying that Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster chooses to defend the Missouri Constitution, rather than the unconstitutional conduct of our state's chief executive. Please also be praying that Judge Beetem chooses to respect the rule of law in Missouri, even if our Governor does not.