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Gov. Jay Nixon said today legally married same-sex couples can file joint tax returns in Missouri.

Nixon is making the move by executive order.

According to PROMO, the Missouri gay and lesbian advocacy group, the decision makes Missouri the only state not recognizing same-sex marriage that still allows couples to file joint tax returns.

The U.S. Treasury Department and IRS said in August that legally married same-sex couples would be treated as married for federal tax purposes, regardless of where they live.

That ruling came after the U.S. Supreme Court found the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

"Missouri is one of a number of states whose tax code is directly tied to that of the federal government and under Missouri law, legally married couples who file joint federal tax returns with the IRS must also file joint state returns with our state Department of Revenue," Nixon said in a release. "As a result, accepting the jointly-filed state tax returns of all legally-married couples who file federal returns is the only appropriate course of action, given Missouri statutes and the ruling by the U.S. Department of Treasury."

A news release from the governor's office said Nixon's executive order does not authorize or sanction same-sex marriage in the state, which is banned under the Missouri Constitution.

Legislative efforts to pass measures to extend gay rights that fall short of marriage, such as banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, have generally been shut down in General Assembly. House Bill 615, which would prohibit sexual orientation or gender identity-based discrimination, was introduced in February but sat until being referred to a committee on the last day of the legislative session in May, with no time left to act.

This year, Senate Republicans allowed a last-day vote on a similar bill sponsored by Democratic Minority Leader Jolie Justus, who is openly gay. The bill passed, 19-11, but was not taken up in the House.

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