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Attorney asks judge to bypass trial and issue ruling in N.D. gay marriage case

Attorney asks judge to bypass trial and issue ruling in N.D. gay marriage case

BISMARCK, N.D. — The Minneapolis attorney representing the seven same-sex couples challenging North Dakota’s gay marriage ban is asking a judge to bypass a trial and issue a ruling.

North-Dakota-1Attorney Joshua Newville filed a motion for summary judgment late Tuesday while also responding to the state’s motion to dismiss the case.

The state attorney general’s office filed a motion to dismiss on July 1 in U.S. District Court in Fargo. North Dakota Solicitor General Doug Bahr argued in court documents that states have the right to define and regulate marriage.

A message left with a spokeswoman for the attorney general wasn’t immediately returned.

In June, Newville filed the federal lawsuit, which challenges a voter-approved 2004 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage that passed with more than 73 percent of the vote. It claims it violates protections found in the U.S. Constitution, including the 14th Amendment’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.

In the memorandum, Newville argues that the plaintiffs are entitled to summary judgment on their constitutional claims.

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“With the filing of this motion today, we are seeking an order from a district judge that declares marriage equality the law of the land in North Dakota,” Newville said in an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday.

A move for summary judgment has been common in other states wrestling over the issue of same-sex marriage, Newville said.

In May, Newville also filed a similar lawsuit in South Dakota on behalf of six same-sex couples. Newville’s lawsuits made North Dakota and South Dakota the last two states to have constitutional same-sex marriage bans challenged in court.

“The state of North Dakota was the last state to challenge their same-sex marriage ban and the state’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages, but certainly they are every bit as entitled to marriage equality as every other state in the country.”

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