Metro Weekly

With North Dakota lawsuit, all state gay marriage bans challenged

Photo: North Dakota State Capitol. Credit: Jimmy Emerson, DVM/flickr.

Photo: North Dakota State Capitol. Credit: Jimmy Emerson, DVM/flickr.

Every same-sex marriage ban in the nation is now facing a legal challenge following the filing of a federal lawsuit Friday in North Dakota.

Seven same-sex couples filed the legal challenge to North Dakota’s same-sex marriage ban in U.S. District Court, arguing that a state constitutional amendment approved by North Dakota voters in 2004 defining marriage as between a man and a woman violates the U.S. Constitution.

“Without any legitimate governmental interest, North Dakota has targeted a minority of individuals for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” the lawsuit states. “By this Complaint, Plaintiffs seek to end that tyranny of the majority.”

The plaintiffs are represented by Minneapolis attorney Josh Newville, who filed a similar lawsuit on behalf of six same-sex couples in South Dakota challenging that state’s marriage ban. With today’s filing, which comes just weeks before the one year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s sweeping decision in the Windsor case, all existing 31 state same-sex marriage bans now face litigation.

“With today’s addition of North Dakota, courts in every state are considering a freedom to marry case — 70-plus cases in total,” said Evan Wolfson, president and founder of Freedom to Marry, in a statement. 

Since the Supreme Court’s decision last year striking down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, not a single state or federal court has ruled against marriage equality. Nineteen states, plus D.C., currently permit same-sex marriage. 

According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Friday, 56 percent of Americans support allowing gays and lesbians to marry, with 38 percent opposed. Moreover, echoing many of the court rulings that have been handed down in the past year, 50 percent of Americans believe that the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry.

“With 50% of Americans believing the freedom to marry is a constitutional right, and a strong majority supporting marriage for gay couples, it’s time the Supreme Court bring resolution nationwide,” Wolfson added. “The time is now to get on the right side of history.” 

North Dakota Marriage Ban Lawsuit

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Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's former political editor and White House correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @JustinCSnow.