Legal Fights Over Gay Marriage Spread Across US
HELENA, Mont. -- A federal lawsuit filed by four gay couples in Montana leaves just two states - North Dakota and South Dakota - with gay marriage bans and no legal challenges aiming to overturn them. But that’s likely to change as same-sex marriage advocates there gear up for a fight.
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 29 states, judges are being asked whether gays should have the right to marry.
"At this point, I don’t think that it matters, whether you’re first or last. I don’t think it matters at all. I think what matters is that we’re all sending a message to either the Supreme Court or the legislators in Washington, D.C., that this has got to stop," Nancy Rosenbrahn of Rapid City, South Dakota, told The Associated Press Wednesday.
She and Jennie Rosenbrahn married in April in Minneapolis, and plan to sue in South Dakota 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.
Here’s a look at where things stand with other legal challenges across the country:
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.
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.
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.
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.