Nixon joins request to delay California’s same-sex marriage ruling

Tuesday, June 3, 2008 | 8:53 p.m. CDT; updated 10:28 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon said Tuesday that he is joining 10 other states in asking the California Supreme Court to delay finalizing its ruling to legalize same-sex marriage.

Nixon, in a letter to Chief Justice Ronald George, said the court should hold off on implementing its decision until November. That’s because the California secretary of state has certified a ballot measure that, if approved by voters, would overturn the court ruling.

Nixon, a Democrat, writes that he’s concerned Missourians will wrongly think they can get married in California and have it recognized in Missouri. Nixon also said that it doesn’t make sense to implement a ruling that might be overturned in several months.

Missouri voters in 2004 approved a state constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage.

Gov. Matt Blunt has been urging Nixon since Saturday to join in the request for a stay. Earlier Tuesday, Blunt’s office said Nixon was failing to do his job by not standing up for “traditional marriage” and formally requesting a stay of the California ruling.

In a statement issued after Nixon asked the court to delay its decision, Blunt claimed credit for prodding Nixon to take action.

“Missourians overwhelmingly believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, and they deserve an attorney general who stands up for traditional marriage because it is the right thing to do, not because they receive pressure from others,” Blunt said.

A spokesman for Nixon said the certification of the California ballot measure — not pressure from Blunt’s office — prompted the attorney general to request the stay Tuesday.

“As attorney general, Jay Nixon supported the Missouri constitutional amendment to define marriage as being between a man and a woman and has consistently fought to protect marriage,” spokesman Scott Holste said. “Although he disagrees with the ruling by the California Supreme Court, he was pleased to see that the state will let the voters of California decide the definition of marriage in their state.”

Republican attorneys general in Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah have already asked the California Supreme Court to delay implementing its May 15 ruling. All but Florida and New Hampshire also have state constitutional amendments barring same-sex marriage.

Normally, the California Supreme Court’s decisions take effect after 30 days, making the ruling final on June 16. But the court can also give itself a 60-day extension to decide what to do.

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