Four gay and lesbian couples on
Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit challenging Montana's ban on gay
Plaintiff couples in the case are Angie
and Tonya Rolando of Great Falls, Shauna and Nicole Goubeaux of
Bilings, Ben Milano and Chase Weinhandl of Bozeman and Sue Hawthorne
and Adel Johnson of Helena. The Goubeauxs are raising 1-year-old
Aden, while Tonya and Angie, who share a last name but are not
married, have two children from previous marriages.
The American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) of Montana is representing the couples in the suit, Rolando
v. Fox. Plaintiffs in the suit say the state's 2004
voter-approved constitutional amendment limiting marriage to
heterosexual couples violates their constitutional rights.
Montana Governor Steve Bullock, a
Democrat and not a named defendant, said he welcomed the lawsuit.
“The time has come for our state to
recognize and celebrate – not discriminate against – two people
who love one another, are committed to each other, and want to spend
their lives together,” Bullock
said in a statement.
Democratic Senators John Walsh and Jon
Tester also said in statements that they support the lawsuit.
Attorney General Tim Fox, a Republican
and a defendant in the complaint, has not said whether he'll defend
the ban in court. However, Fox has previously called on officials to
defend such bans.
According to the Human Rights Campaign
(HRC), only one state, North Dakota, remains without an active
lawsuit challenging its marriage equality ban. A challenge in South
Dakota, which also doesn't have an active case, is being planned.