Nearly a full decade after 71 percent of Missourians approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2004, an openly gay, Democratic state legislator wants to put the issue back before the people.
Yesterday, State Representative Mike Colona proposed a joint resolution to repeal the state's constitutional definition of marriage as existing only "between a man and a woman."
"I do think the time is right," Colona told Missourinet after yesterday's legislative session. However, with the General Assembly already halfway through its legislative calender, he conceded that there's virtually no chance the resolution will make it to voters this year.
Though the measure is largely symbolic at the moment, Colona's proposed resolution, HJR 82, isn't the only recent challenge to the Missouri's constitutional definition of marriage.
Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed suit against the state on behalf of eight same-sex couples who are legally married in other states. At the time, ACLU legal director Tony Rothert predicted that Missouri will likely have to mount some kind of defense of the legality of its gay-marriage ban.
"We really don't know what the state's justification is at this point for maintaining the amendment. Frankly, we don't think they have one," he told Daily RFT.
Whether the combined pressures of Colona's resolution and the ACLU's lawsuit can shake the state's decade old constitutional ban also depends on ban's supporters. "Pro-family" organizations and conservative legislatures are fighting tooth and nail against any perceived recognition of same-sex unions in the state.
For months, opponents of marriage equality have loudly objected to Governor Jay Nixon's executive order to allow same-sex couples who are legally married in other states to file joint federal-tax returns here in Missouri.
Indeed, groups like the the Missouri Family Network and State Representative Nick Marshall -- who filed articles of impeachment against the governor in Feburary -- have rallied around stopping legally married couples from filing their unacceptably gay federal taxes.
"Much has changed since this discriminatory measure was passed in 2004," Colona said in a press release yesterday after filing his resolution. "Every single one of us has had friends, family and colleagues who have come out to their loved ones and been denied a basic right afforded to all of our citizens -- the right of marriage."