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Judge in South Dakota rejects motion to dismiss challenge to gay marriage ban

Judge in South Dakota rejects motion to dismiss challenge to gay marriage ban

PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota’s marriage equality lawsuit is moving forward after U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier on Friday rejected the State’s motion for the case to be dismissed.

South-DakotaThe Court heard arguments in Rosenbrahn v. Daugaard on October 17 in Sioux Falls.

The Attorney General’s Office argued that a 2006 8th Circuit Court of Appeals case required dismissal. Plaintiffs’ attorney Joshua Newville argued that case isn’t on point and that the controlling decision is United States v. Windsor, the 2013 Supreme Court case that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

In a 28-page opinion issued Friday afternoon, Schreier agreed with the plaintiffs, writing, “Given the subsequent developments recognized almost uniformly by federal courts following the Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor, Baker is no longer binding authority. Although Bruning explained that sexual orientation is not a suspect class, it did not address whether marriage is a fundamental right. Thus, those cases do not foreclose relief on plaintiffs’ due process and equal protection claims.”

Schreier didn’t entirely reject the state’s motion. Schreier dismissed the plaintiffs’ claim that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violated the couple’s constitutional right to travel.

Newville, who is representing the six South Dakota couples in the lawsuit filed in May in U.S. District Court in Sioux Falls, said Friday the news was still “fantastic.” He said ultimately the case at its core is about “equal protection.”

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Attorney General Marty Jackley after the ruling reaffirmed the state’s position. He says marriage should only be “defined” by the voters of South Dakota.

The Court will now consider the constitutionality of South Dakota’s gay marriage ban.

Schreier ordered state officials to respond to the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment within ten days. The State must explain why its refusal to wed same-sex couples and its refusal to recognize out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples do not violate U.S. Constitution guarantees of due process and equal protection.

Developing story. This report will be updated.

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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