MISSOURI -- The Missouri Supreme Court ruled last month that a vote on amending the state constitution to make same-sex marriages illegal can be placed on the primary election slated in August. In a 6 to 1 opinion, the judges ruled that Missouri Secretary of State Matt Blunt "has a duty" to submit the proposed amendment for the Aug. 3 ballot.
Those going to the polls will be asked to vote "yes" or "no" on the following question: "That to be valid and recognized in this state, a marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman."
Political pundits and observers predicted the issue could draw more social conservatives to the polls and therefore benefit Republicans. Since Republicans and Democrats do not run against each other in Missouri's primary, many believed Blunt, a republican seeking the governor's office, wanted the amendment on the November ballot.
Incumbent Democratic Gov. Bob Holden was accused of putting the amendment on the August ballot to negate any boost it might give to the Republican candidate in November. In early June the Missouri Supreme Court held oral arguments in a suit over the matter, filed by Attorney General Jay Nixon, a Democrat.
"The secretary of state cannot exercise the duties of his office in a manner to frustrate the governor's constitutional authority to select the election date," stated the court's opinion.
While Republicans in the General Assembly spearheaded the amendment, Democratic governors have twice signed bans on same sex marriages into Missouri law. In 1996 Gov. Mel Carnahan approved legislation banning same sex marriage and state recognition of such marriages as well as making it state policy to only recognize marriages between a man and a woman.
The State Supreme Court overturned that law in 1998, ruling that it was inappropriately attached to another piece of legislation. However, Gov. Holden restored the ban in 2001.