Legal fight over gay marriage spreads to 30 states

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 22, 2014 at 7:14 pm •  Published: May 22, 2014
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Federal lawsuits filed this week in Montana and South Dakota leave just one state — North Dakota — with a gay marriage ban that's not facing some form of legal challenge.

State marriage bans have been falling around the country since the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Now, in 30 states, judges are being asked whether gays should have the right to marry.

"Even though it's happening all around us in other states, this is us, this is real," Nancy Rosenbrahn of Rapid City, South Dakota, told The Associated Press Thursday.

She and Jennie Rosenbrahn married in April in Minneapolis, and were among the six couples who sued in South Dakota Thursday to overturn that state's gay marriage ban.

In 19 states and the District of Columbia, gay couples can already wed, with Oregon and Pennsylvania becoming the latest to join the list this week when federal judges struck down their bans and officials decided not to appeal.

But opposition in some places remains strong. A spokesman for Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said he will vigorously defend the state's constitutional ban against the lawsuit brought by four gay couples.

In Utah, Gov. Gary Herbert said at a news conference Thursday he also is committed to defending his state's ban, and he blasted decisions against doing so by leaders in other states.

"For elected officials, governors or attorney generals, to pick and choose what laws (they) will enforce I think is a tragedy, and is the next step to anarchy," Herbert said. "We have an obligation as a state to defend those laws."

Here's a look at where things stand with other legal challenges across the country:

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Arkansas

A state judge in Arkansas' largest county earlier this month struck down the state's gay marriage ban, saying the state has "no rational reason" for preventing gay couples from marrying. The state Supreme Court brought the marriages to a halt and is weighing state officials' appeal.

Idaho

State officials announced this week they will appeal last week's decision from a federal judge overturning the state's same-sex marriage ban. The appeal goes to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Indiana

State attorneys have asked the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to review a federal judge's recent order requiring Indiana to recognize the out-of-state marriage of a lesbian couple in which one woman is terminally ill. That ruling applies just to one couple — not to others who were legally wed elsewhere and are seeking to have Indiana recognize their marriages.

Kentucky

After a federal judge ordered Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, attorney general Jack Conway said he would not defend the state's law. But, the state has hired outside attorneys to handle the case and is appealing to 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, which has not yet scheduled a hearing.