JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Bob Holden attempted Wednesday to set an Aug. 3 statewide election on a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Missouri.
But the secretary of state’s office, which oversees elections, was weighing whether Holden’s proclamation can be enforced.
The legislature passed the proposed constitutional amendment last Friday in the closing minutes of its annual session. The constitution automatically sets elections for proposed amendments in November, unless the governor schedules a special election earlier.
In this case, the presiding officers of the House and Senate are not expected to sign and send the gay marriage amendment to Republican Secretary of State Matt Blunt’s office until May 28. That would be three days later than the deadline by which Blunt’s office must notify local election authorities of an items to appear on the August ballot.
Holden spokeswoman Mary Still said the formal legislative signing of the amendment is not a prerequisite to the governor setting a special election. She contends the state constitution allows a governor to call a special election after the legislative votes passing a proposal have been entered in the House and Senate journals.
“The governor felt like it was important to go ahead — there’s no reason to delay — and put it on the August ballot,” Still said.
The proposal would ask voters to add one sentence to the Missouri Constitution: “That to be valid and recognized in this state, a marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman.”
Missouri already has a similar law, but supporters of the amendment believe a constitutional provision could better withstand a potential legal challenge.