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US Government

Federal Judge Rules South Dakota Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

lesbian-same-sex-marriageA federal judge ruled on Monday that South Dakota’s voter-approved prohibition of same-sex marriage violates the US Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law.

US District Judge Karen Schreier ruled in favor of six couples, whose “fundamental right to marry” is being denied by the state’s gay marriage ban.

“South Dakota law deprives them of that right solely because they are same-sex couples and without sufficient justification,” Schreier wrote in her 28-page ruling.

Nancy Rosenbrahn, one of the plaintiffs in the case, Rosenbrahn v. Daugaard, was pleased by the decision, but had a mixed reaction.

“On one hand, this is like the best present ever,” Rosenbrahn told the New York Times “On the other hand, you go back and you say ‘Well, yeah, it should be a yes,’ because we are no different than anybody else. There is no reason to say we can’t get married. There is no valid reason to do that anymore.”

Schreier’s ruling does not mean LGBT couples can go out and get married today, as she placed the decision on hold pending appeal.

The South Dakota ruling came on the same day the US Supreme Court, which is currently considering whether to take up the issue of same-sex marriage, declined to hear a challenge to Louisiana’s gay marriage ban.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley issued a statement expressing his disappointment at Judge Schreier’s ruling.

“It remains the state’s position that the institution of marriage should be defined by the voters of South Dakota and not the federal courts,” Jackley’s statement read.

Jackley said the state will appeal the decision to the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Josh Newville said Schreier’s ruling is the last chance for the state’s “elected officials to be on the right side of history” by declining to appeal the case.

“I would say that Attorney General Jackley needs to consider very seriously the amount of money that he’s pouring into this lawsuit on behalf of the state to keep a discriminatory law in place,” Newville cautioned, according to the New York Times.

Currently, 36 states plus the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage.

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