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Federal judge overturns South Dakota same-sex marriage ban

South Dakota State Capitol - Credit: Jimmy Emerson, DVM/flickr

South Dakota State Capitol – Credit: Jimmy Emerson, DVM/flickr

A federal judge struck down South Dakota’s ban on same-sex marriage in a ruling handed down Monday.

U.S. District Court Judge Karen Schreier found South Dakota law prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying and blocking recognition of legal same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions violates the Due Process Clause and Equality Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In her decision, Schreier drew parallels to the Supreme Court’s 1967 decision in Loving v. Virginia striking down state bans on interracial marriage.

“In Loving, the Supreme Court addressed a traditionally accepted definition of marriage that prohibited Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving from marrying. Because Virginia’s laws deprived that couple of their fundamental right to marriage, the Court struck down those laws. Little distinguishes this case from Loving,” Schreier wrote. “Plaintiffs have a fundamental right to marry. South Dakota law deprives them of that right solely because they are same-sex couples and without sufficient justification.”

Although the ruling orders state officials to cease enforcing the state’s same-sex marriage ban, “or otherwise declining to issue a marriage license solely because the applicants are of the same gender,” Schreier stayed her decision pending appeal to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. Schreier was nominated to the federal bench in 1999 by President Bill Clinton.

South Dakota Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

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

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