Federal Judge Strikes Down South Dakota’s Ban on Marriage Equality

by Charles Joughin

WASHINGTON – Today U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier ruled against South Dakota’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, making the Mount Rushmore State the latest to see such a ban struck down in court since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its historic marriage rulings in June of 2013. In Rosenbrahn v. Daugaard, private attorneys and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) sued the state on behalf of six same-sex couples who argue that South Dakota’s ban on marriage equality violates the U.S. Constitution.

“According to Judge Schreier’s ruling and two dozen others over the last year, there is no justifiable reason to keep these discriminatory marriage bans on the books, said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.  “The truth is, laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying serve no purpose other than to harm Americans who simply want to protect and provide for themselves and their families.  Ultimately the U.S. Constitution does not allow states to continue discriminating against committed and loving gay and lesbian couples.  It’s only a matter of time before the U.S. Supreme Court decides the issue once and for all.”

The state now has the option to appeal today’s order to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Two other states within the circuit – Arkansas and Missouri – have appealed similar federal district court rulings to the Eighth Circuit.  Judge Schreier stayed her ruling pending appeal from the state.

Gallup puts support for marriage equality at 55 percent – an astonishing 15 points increase from just 5 years ago – with other polls showing support at even higher margins.  And support for same-sex marriage rights continues to grow in virtually every demographic group.  According to ABC News/Washington Post, 77 percent of adults under age 30 favor marriage equality.  40 percent of Republicans – an all-time high and jump of 16 points in under two years – now support marriage for gay and lesbian couples, while the number of Catholics supporting marriage has grown to 62 percent, according to the New York Times.  These numbers continue to grow, with no indication that support will slow down. 

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.


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