A federal judge on Monday struck down
South Dakota's ban on gay marriage.
Lawmakers in 1996 approved a law
prohibiting same sex couples from marrying. A decade later, voters
approved a constitutional amendment reinforcing the law.
“Plaintiffs have a fundamental right
to marry,” U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier said in her
ruling. “South Dakota law deprives them of that right solely
because they are same-sex couples without sufficient justification.”
Schreier stayed her ruling pending an
Plaintiffs in the case are five couples
who want their out-of-state marriages recognized by South Dakota and
a couple who wishes to marry in the state. Two of the couples are
raising children. They are represented by two local lawyers and the
National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).
“We are thrilled for our clients and
for all same-sex couples in South Dakota, who have watched and waited
as progress has been made in so many other states, and who can now
see light at the end of the tunnel in their own state,” said
Christoper F. Stoll, senior staff attorney with NCLR. “We are also
grateful to Judge Schreier for writing such a detailed and powerful
analysis and for affirming in such strong terms that same-sex couples
have the same fundamental freedom to marry as others. We hope this
decision will hasten the day when the Supreme Court decides this
issue for the country and ensures that all families are treated
fairly and equally under the law.”
Gay couples can wed in 36 states, in
addition to the District of Columbia, with Florida being the latest.
provided by Equality Case Files.)