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South Dakota LGBT rights and marriage equality


Marriage Equality Ruling in South Dakota

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

South Dakota mapA Federal Judge struck down South Dakota’s marriage equality ban yesterday.

The Washington Blade reports:

In a 28-page decision, U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier, a Clinton appointee, grants summary judgement to plaintiff same-sex couples in the case, saying the South Dakota’s marriage ban runs contrary to their rights to equal protection and due process under the U.S. Constitution. “In Loving, the Supreme Court addressed a traditionally accepted definition of marriage that prohibited Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving from marrying,” Schreier writes. “Because Virginia’s laws deprived that couple of their fundamental right to marriage, the Court struck down those laws. Little distinguishes this case from Loving. Plaintiffs have a fundamental right to marry. South Dakota law deprives them of that right solely because they are same-sex couples and without sufficient justification.”

Unfortunately, the judge stayed her own decision, so same sex couples in South Dakota will have to wait to get married.

Ari Ezra Waldman argues that there should have been no stay:

It no longer makes any sense, not after the Supreme Court refused to grant a stay in Florida pending appeal. As I argued previously, the Court’s refusal to extend the stay beyond January 5, 2015 was special because it was the first time the Court let stand a pro-marriage equality decision in a jurisdiction where the appellate court (11th Circuit, in this case) had not yet spoken. Everywhere else, in South Carolina, for example, or in Idaho, the Court let marriage equality go into effect because the Fourth and Ninth Circuits, respectively, had spoken.

South Dakota is in the Eighth Circuit, which has not had occasion to decide a marriage equality case in the post-Windsor world. Therefore, with respect to the stay, South Dakota is just like Florida: a state with a pro-equality federal district court decision that should not be stayed even though the superior circuit court has not yet spoken. It is a shame the stay was put into effect. The judge was probably just being cautious. But her caution extends the hours of discrimination and second-class citizenship for thousands of gay men and women.

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South Dakota Marriage Equality Ban Challenged

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

South Dakota mapA South Dakota marriage equality lawsuit was just filed.

Equality on Trial reports:

Six same-sex couples in South Dakota are challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Filed by attorneys based in Minnesota and South Dakota, the suit alleges that the state’s refusal to marry same-sex couples or recognize their out of state marriages violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the federal Constitution… The complaint urges the district court to apply heightened scrutiny to the Equal Protection claims. They claim violations of Equal Protection based on sex, which already receives heightened scrutiny, but also based on sexual orientation: The exclusion of Plaintiffs from marriage based on their sexual orientation subjects Defendants’ conduct to strict or at least heightened scrutiny. Defendants’ conduct cannot withstand this scrutiny because the exclusion does not serve any legitimate governmental interests, let alone any important or compelling interests, and does not serve any interests in an adequately tailored manner.

That means North Dakota stands alone in the US with a unchallenged ban. And the attorney in the South Dakota case indicates he may sue in North Dakota as well.

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Attorney in South Dakota Marriage Equality Lawsuit May Also Challenge North Dakota’s Ban

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

North DakotaThe attorney who is representing a South Dakota marriage equality lawsuit may also sue North Dakota, which would mean every single US state would have marriage equality or a lawsuit pushing for it. reports:

Joshua Newville, the Minneapolis lawyer who currently represents three South Dakota gay couples in a federal class action lawsuit against the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is reportedly considering a challenge to North Dakota’s ban as well. The AP reports: Joshua Newville says he’s been contacted by interested couples in North Dakota who want to challenge the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. North Dakotans overwhelmingly supported the constitutional amendment in 2004, passing a ballot measure with 73 percent approval.

In related news, Thompson Mayor Karyn Hippen became the first North Dakota mayor to join Mayors for the Freedom to Marry.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Thompson Mayor Karyn Hippen, who heads a town of less than 1,000 residents south of Grand Forks, said she’s proud to be the 400th member to join Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, organized by the national advocacy group Freedom to Marry. The issue hits close to home for Hippen, she said, because her oldest son is gay. When he came out to her, she said “it broke my heart to think that society’s rules might stand in his way when it comes to marriage equality.”

Anyone surprised that North Dakota would be the last state to get a lawsuit?

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USA, South Dakota: Another Gay Couple Joins Lawsuit

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

South Dakota mapA third same sex couple has joined the upcoming lawsuit for marriage equality in the state. reports:

Clay Schweitzer and Jeremy Coller are joining two other couples in a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on gay marriage. Lawyers filed litigation on behalf of Schweitzer and Coller, Nancy and Jennie Rosenbrahn of Rapid City, and another couple who live in Sioux Falls. The Rosenbrahn’s were married in Minnesota over the weekend. Schweitzer and Coller said they applied for a license here in Pennington County but were denied. They now plan to go to Iowa to get married before returning to South Dakota to challenge the law. “This isn’t just to stand outside the lines or anything. This is about us living a life together and forming a family. The same thing they can do so easily by walking down to the courthouse, filing out those papers, paying their money and then off to the church.” Coller said.

Redder and redder states are now being challenged on their anti-gay bigotry. Only Alaska, Montana and North Dakota are not yet facing marriage equality lawsuits.

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USA, South Dakota: Lawsuit Planned to Challenge Marriage Equality Ban

Friday, April 25th, 2014

South Dakota mapAnd then there were three. A lawsuit will be filed shortly in South Dakota pushing for marriage equality in the state.

Twin reports:

The couple, Nancy Robrahn, 68, and Jennie Rosenkranz, 72, say that along with two other gay South Dakota couples, they plan on filing a federal class-action lawsuit against state officials. Robrahn and Rosenkranz will argue that South Dakota should recognize same-sex marriages when performed outside of the state. In addition, the suit will seek to overturn South Dakota’s statewide same-sex marriage ban enacted by a constitutional amendment in 2006.

The couple is getting married in Minneapolis this weekend, and the ceremony will be officiated by Mayor Betsy Hodges. Once the lawsuit is filed, only North Dakota, Montana, and Alaska will not be facing marriage equality lawsuits.

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USA: 30 States Have Marriage Equality Lawsuits; 5 Left to Go

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Gay WeddingOnly five states that haven’t legalized marriage equality aren’t yet facing a marriage equality lawsuit – and two may be facing one soon.

The Washington Post reports:

Gay marriage is now legal in 17 states and bans are being challenged in 30, according to the latest count from Lambda Legal, a pro-gay marriage organization. (Hawaii and Illinois allow gay marriage, but legal technicalities to aspects of their laws are still being ironed out in the courts.) The five states with bans on gay marriage that stand unchallenged are: Alaska, Georgia, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. The five unchallenged state gay marriage bans may not stand for long. Already, a South Dakota couple has plans to challenge their state ban. And the Supreme Court could soon weigh in.

The other state of the five that may soon have its own suit:

“We have been working to identify the best course of action to bring marriage equality to Georgia,” Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Beth Littrell tells GA Voice. “We will be announcing the result of that work very soon. I can assure you Georgia won’t be left behind when it comes to marriage equality.”

How long until we have marriage equality in all fifty states? Your best guess?

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USA: Anti Gay Bills Dead in South Dakota, Kansas, and Tennessee

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Gay RightsThree states that were considering “Right to Discriminate” bills have killed them.

The Times-Union reports on the South Dakota bill:

A measure that sought to prevent lawsuits against businesses that refuse to hire or provide services to gays and lesbians was rejected Tuesday by a South Dakota legislative panel after opponents said the bill was unnecessary and would send a message of hate or fear. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-2 to kill the bill, which also sought to protect people from being sued for expressing their beliefs on sexual orientation.

Sen. Jean Hunhoff, R-Yankton, a member of the committee, said the measure and similar ones introduced during this year’s legislative session seem to be focused on trying to divide society. “Because what? We fear them? We fear what it’s going to lead to?” Hunhoff said. “I have a difficult time as a faith-based person that I’m supposed to be afraid of these people.”

Pink News reports on the Kansas bill:

A Tennessee Senator has dropped a bill which would have allowed businesses to refuse service for gay couples’ weddings based on religious beliefs. Senator Mike Bell on Tuesday shelved the ‘Religious Freedom Act’, (SB2566) before it went to a vote. After having taken over as lead sponsor of the bill last week, Bell admitted that the legislation was unnecessary, noting that business owners already have protections under Tennessee law. “I’m convinced that current law protects people of faith,” Bell said.

And USA Today reports from Kansas:

Senate leaders already had said the bill would not pass their chamber, but [Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Jeff] King said Tuesday that his committee won’t even take it up. “We’re not working House Bill 2453,” said King, an Independence Republican, referring to the measure by number. King said he’s not drafting a narrower alternative. He said he’ll have hearings so interested parties can have national experts discuss whether Kansas needs a new law. “Something new would have to arise out of these hearings,” he said.

I would have thought that bills like these would have been a slam dunk in states like Tennessee, Kansas and South Dakota. We really have come so far, so fast.

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USA: More States Considering Allowing Christian Business Owners to Discriminate

Monday, January 27th, 2014

KansasFollowing in the footsteps of a proposed law in Arizona, at least two more states are considering laws that would let business owners discriminate based on sexual orientation.

LGBTQ Nation reports on Kansas:

With the legal climate uncertain for states banning gay marriage, Kansas lawmakers are considering a proposal designed to allow individuals, groups and businesses to refuse to recognize or provide goods, services or benefits to gay couples based on their religious beliefs. The legislator pushing the bill says it’s designed to protect religious freedom, and Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is receptive to the idea, though he hasn’t yet studied the proposal enough to offer a formal endorsement. However, critics say the measure promotes discrimination against gays and lesbians, and is so broadly written that it could apply to any couple, gay or straight, with a less-than-traditional union.

South Dakota mapAnd On Top Magazine reports from South Dakota:

South Dakota Republicans have introduced two bills which seek to allow clergy, church officials and businesses to refuse to take part in gay marriages and related events. State Senator Ernie Otten said his bills were necessary in case a court overturns the state’s ban on such unions. The bills would allow clergy and businesses to refuse to perform or supply goods or services to same-sex marriages or receptions because of their religious beliefs.

You can ind the news about Arizona here.

Smells like an ALEC bill to me, being spread state-to-state by one of these shadow groups. What do you think? Do these folks realize these laws could be used to justify a Muslim or Buddhist vendor when they refuse to marry a Christian couple?

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USA, South Dakota: Transgender Employee Wins Landmark Settlement

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Transgender FlagLambda Legal helped a transgender employee who was fired in South Dakota win a landmark settlement.

SDGGLN reports:

Lambda Legal today announced a landmark settlement for Cori McCreery, a transgender woman in South Dakota who was terminated from her job after she informed her employer that she would be taking steps to transition from male to female at work. Backed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Cori’s settlement includes $50,000, the maximum statutory amount for a business with under 100 employees, plus public notice on the EEOC website, public notice on the workplace bulletin board, a mandatory policy in the workplace on workplace protections, a yearly three-hour all-staff mandatory training on workplace protections, and a letter of apology and letter of recommendation for McCreery.

Congrats to Ms. McCreery – trans women like her are blazing a path for those who will follow.

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South Dakota, USA: Petition Effort to Repeal Marriage Equality Ban Abandoned

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Just found this interesting tidbit about marriage equality in South Dakota tucked away in an article about marriage equality in Iowa. KSFY reports:

At the top of this report, we mentioned an effort here in South Dakota to change South Dakota’s constitution to allow for gay marriage. The woman behind the petition effort has suspended it. She says she was physically harassed outside a Sioux Falls bar because of it. And the lesbian couple she was working with….they’re now refusing to talk publicly about it, saying they plan to move to a state which allows gay marriage.

Has anyone here heard about this effort before? The last poll we have is for civil unions, from 2010, and it shows that only 36% supported them at that time.

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