Mo. AG requests Calif. stay same-sex marriage ruling

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- 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 that 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.

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.

Republican Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt has been urging Nixon since Saturday to join in the request for a stay. A spokeswoman for Blunt had no immediate comment Tuesday about Nixon's decision to do so.

Earlier Tuesday, Blunt's office had said Nixon was failing to do his job by not standing up for "traditional marriage" and formally requesting a stay of the California ruling.

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."

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