Can North Dakota Turn the Tide on Gay Marriage?
State officials are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging North Dakota’s constitutional prohibition on same-sex marriage, despite a wave of court decisions in other states striking down such bans.
The state attorney general’s office filed the motion late Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Fargo. North Dakota Solicitor General Doug Bahr argues in court documents that states have the right to define and regulate marriage.
"Nothing in the United States Constitution prevents the people of North Dakota from defining marriage as the legal union between a man and a woman," Bahr wrote in his 50-page response.
North Dakota voters overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage 10 years ago. The ballot received 73 percent approval.
"The people of North Dakota, through the deliberative political process, retain the traditional understanding of marriage as the union between a man and a woman," Bahr wrote.
Similar cases are being heard in courtrooms around the country, and gay marriage bans have already been struck down in several other states, including on Tuesday in deeply conservative Kentucky. The fight to legalize gay marriage began in earnest after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year. Since then, gay rights advocates have won 18 cases in federal and state courts.