Last year, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, brushed aside a question on marriage equality, saying: "I have not supported gay marriage in the past and don't at this point." When Daily RFT asked about the topic again this year -- after he had dodged inquiries at a press event -- his office declined to comment.
Yesterday, however, just after the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark pro-gay marriage ruling, Nixon praised the decision as an "important step forward for equal protection and due process."
So is he finally endorsing gay marriage? It's not all that clear.
See also: - Gay Marriage: Governor Jay Nixon Doesn't Want to Talk About it Right Now - Claire McCaskill Supports Gay Marriage: "History Will Agree" - St. Louis Archdiocese Says God's Definition Of Marriage Can't Be Changed
Daily RFT was not able to attend the press conference -- which was about an unrelated legislative matter -- but we asked his spokesman afterward for details on his comments. Specifically, we asked: "Nixon has said that he does not support gay marriage in Missouri -- do these comments today mean he does now officially support gay marriage in the state? Any other details you might be able to offer on how his stance may have changed here?"
Spokesman Scott Holste wrote back to us in an e-mail, saying, "[W]hat I can tell you is that, when asked about the ruling at a news conference this morning, Gov. Nixon said the ruling reflects the reality that reasonable people are seeing these issues of equality in new ways, and that the decision today was an important step forward for equal protection and due process, two bedrock principles of our democracy."
So it would appear that Nixon isn't saying he opposes gay marriage anymore...but he's also not coming out and directly stating that he does support it, either.
In his on-record anti-gay marriage comment last year, in an interview with KOMU-TV (Channel 8), he noted that marriage equality was not an issue that was coming up in the state legislature.
In Missouri, voters banned gay marriage through a constitutional amendment back in 2004. The Supreme Court ruling yesterday said that the Defense of Marriage Act -- which denied federal benefits to same-sex couples -- is unconstitutional. This decision also clears the way for gay marriage in California. Given the ban on marriage equality in Missouri, yesterday's ruling does not directly affect the state, though it could bolster state-level gay marriage efforts across the country going forward. (It could also potentially help couples who were married in other states and now live in Missouri and want to access federal benefits).
What exactly did Nixon himself have to say when questioned on the matter at a press event? His remarks are very supportive though do fall short of an endorsement of gay marriage.
According to the Beacon, Nixon told reporters:
Many Americans are reflecting on what constitutes discrimination. And none of us wants to live in a society that condones discrimination. It's one of the bedrock principles of our democracy. The decision today was an important step forward for equal protection and due process, two bedrock principles of our democracy...I will continue to reflect and look on this issue as we move forward.