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Missouri sets August vote for gay marriage measure

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- In a victory for Democrats, Missourians will vote in August, not November, on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Under pressure from Missouri's Supreme Court, Secretary of State Matt Blunt, a Republican, agreed yesterday to put the measure on the ballot this summer.

Democrats did not want the vote to occur with the November general election. Political observers said the gay marriage amendment would draw conservatives to the polls and boost President Bush and Blunt, who is running for governor.

In a 6-to-1 decision yesterday, the state Supreme Court did not directly order Blunt to put the issue on the August ballot, but said that he should. Shortly after the ruling, a spokesman for Blunt said Blunt would follow the court's wishes.

Governor Bob Holden, a Democrat, had called for an August vote shortly after legislators passed the proposed amendment.

Republican legislators and Blunt said they preferred the November ballot because more people probably would vote on the issue than during the August party primaries.

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