Marriage Equality Wiki
Messer v. Nixon
Full name Kerry Messer, et al. v. Jeremiah W. Nixon, et al.
Filed 2014-01-09
Plaintiffs Kerry Messer, Justin Mosher, Don Hinkle, and Joseph Ortwerth
Defendants Jeremiah "Jay" W. Nixon, in his official capacity as Governor of Missouri; John R. Mollenkamp, in his official capacity as Acting Director of the Missouri Department of Revenue; the Missouri Department of Revenue; and the State of Missouri
Intervenor-Defendants Scott Emanuel and Ed Reggi
Court Cole County District Court
Current status Hearing and trial setting scheduled for May 2, 2014

Messer v. Nixon is a 2014 Missouri state court case challenging the acceptance of joint state income tax returns from same-sex couples. The case was filed on January 9, 2014 under case number 14AC-CC9. It is assigned to Judge Jon Edward Beetem.


On January 9, the plaintiffs, four heterosexual Missouri taxpayers, filed a complaint against the Governor, the Acting Director of the state Department of Revenue, the Department itself, and the State of Missouri. They sought to have Executive Order 13-14, which directed the Department of Revenue to accept joint state income tax returns from same-sex couples who were legally married in other states, declared to be in violation of the state constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.

On February 7, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. The plaintiffs removed the contention that they were suing as representatives of the Missouri Baptist Convention, the Christian Life Commission, or the Missouri Family Policy Council, and now are only suing only as individual taxpayers. There were also several added claims:

  • The plaintiffs have standing to sue because they raised money for the marriage amendment, and because they voted for it.
  • The state constitution says the state's ability to rely on federal definitions for the purpose of taxation is limited to the definition of "income", and that using the federal definition of "spouse", "husband", "wife", and "marriage" for taxation purposes separately violates that provision.
  • The Governor's executive order has the effect of reducing the tax burden on same-sex couples, so it violates another provision of the state constitution which requires the state Department of Revenue to "collect all taxes and fees payable to the state as provided by law".
  • The state constitution gives the power of taxation exclusively to the legislature, so the Governor has no authority to modify it.

On February 20, the defendants filed their answer to the amended complaint.

On February 24, a same-sex couple from Missouri filed a motion to intervene as a defendant. The plaintiffs opposed this, but on March 28, the court granted the couple's motion.

On March 26, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO), immediately preventing the state from accepting joint tax returns from married same-sex couples. The court denied the motion for TRO on April 4, citing the fact that any alleged harm suffered by the plaintiffs, being purely financial in nature, is not irreparable, and that given the proximity to the filing deadline of April 15, any TRO issued now would be of limited effect since many taxpayers affected would have previously filed.

A status hearing and trial setting is scheduled for May 2 at 9am CT. The court has advised the parties to be prepared to discuss what sort of hearing would be required and what dates they would be available for trial, if that is necessary.