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Minnesota Gay Marriage Lawsuit Can Proceed

Minnesota Gay Marriage Lawsuit Can Proceed


A lawsuit challenging Minnesota’s statutory ban on same-sex marriage that was previously thrown out by a lower court has been given the go ahead after a state Court of Appeals ruling on Monday overturned the dismissal by a Hennepin County judge and sent the issue back to District Court.

From the Star Tribune:

In the 15-page decision released on Monday that partly approved and partly reversed the trial court decision, the Court of Appeals ruled that DuFresne improperly relied on the Baker case. Since Baker, Judge Renee Worke wrote, the U.S. Supreme Court has indicated that “moral disapproval of a class because of sexual orientation cannot be a legitimate government purpose that equal protection requires.”

The couples should be granted a chance in District Court to prove that their rights were violated, she concluded.

“Even if the right to marry is not considered a fundamental right, appellants should have been granted an opportunity to show that MN DOMA is not a reasonable means to its stated objective — to promote opposite-sex marriages to encourage procreation,” Worke wrote.

The case was dismissed by District Judge Mary DuFresne last March. She cited Baker vs. Nelson, a 1971 Minnesota Supreme Court decision saying that it is not unconstitutional to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples.

The plaintiffs in the case are Duan Gajewski and Doug Benson, Lindzi Campbell and Jessica Dykhuis, and Tom Trisko and John Rittman. They contend that the state’s statutory ban on same-sex marriage leads to actual harms that pervade their lives through denial of benefits and lack of recognition for their families.

This is a positive of course, but there have been some concerns expressed over this case that center not on its aims but its timing.

The state’s current Supreme Court is perceived as conservative and some LGBT rights groups in the state have predicted they will fall back on the 1971 case to dismiss the suit. Of course, there is never an overtly favorable time to challenge discrimination and so this perhaps does not overly concern.

However, one other worry is that this case may in fact galvinize foes of marriage equality and give them more ammunition to support a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in the state. A ballot on codifying the state’s existing gay marriage ban will be held in May and it appears that the spin has already started, with anti-gay marriage group Minnesota for Marriage saying in a press release:

“The fact that three judges of our court of appeals concluded that there might not be even one reasonable basis for limiting marriage to one man and one woman should be a wake-up call to Minnesotans who believe that our marriage laws are safe.  The only way for Minnesotans to ensure that an activist judge doesn’t decide to redefine marriage is to put our historic definition of marriage in our state constitution, beyond the reach of state judges and politicians,” said Adkins.

“Without the Marriage Protection Amendment, marriage will always be just one court ruling away from being redefined. Every day we’re vulnerable to lawsuits seeking to change marriage by transforming it into a system of love licenses, or eliminating it altogether.  We urge Minnesotans to support the amendment to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

Recent polls suggest Minnesotans remain split on the constitutional amendment.

You can read the full court order document and find out more about the case here.

Related Reading:

School District Mulling Change to Sexual Orientation Policy

MN Independence Party Against Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

MN Gay Marriage Ban Statistical Underdog?

Read more: , , , , , , , ,

Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to alex-s.

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5:33PM PST on Feb 3, 2012

I really hope that Minnesota doesn't ban gay marriage. Marriage equality should be EVERYWHERE.

11:55AM PST on Jan 29, 2012

I believe a big surprise is coming! Minnesota will NOT ban gay marriage!!

10:12AM PST on Jan 28, 2012

In order to be a homophobe it has to occupy a significant part of your brain, and this means that homophobes are thinking about men/women rubbing penises/vaginas together in a 24/7 gay porno. That’s an awful lot of gay thoughts for supposedly straight people who hate gays. I bet even gay people don’t think about gay stuff as much as homophobes do.

Homophobes (aka Anti-Gay Movement) are not protesting against bestiality, pedophilia (with/without a priest involved), rape, sexual exploitation, or any other form of non-consensual sexual act in which a victim is forced against their will to participate

The Homophobes are protesting a private sexual act being performed by two consenting adults.


Homosexuals = fighting for the right to control their own behavior.

Homophobes = fighting for the right to control other peoples behavior.

7:49PM PST on Jan 26, 2012

I wish them success!

5:27PM PST on Jan 26, 2012

1 step at a time.

3:47AM PST on Jan 26, 2012

Union between one man and one may have begun that way but the world has changed. How about union between human beings?

11:21PM PST on Jan 25, 2012

Dr. C said : "I wonder how much practice in front of a mirror was required to say that "compelling state interest" lie in a convincing fashion?"

+++++++++++ About as much as Republicans need to deliver ANY of their bigoted, misogynistic lies.

6:10PM PST on Jan 25, 2012

As a Justice of the Peace in a state (CT) where same gender couples have been allowed to marry, I can assure you that our rate of heterosexual marriages and divorces hasn't been effected one bit since the law has changed. As a point of interest, most of the heterosexuals getting married have been together less than 5 years and the same gender couples have been together on average more than 10 years before tying the knot. CT is taking in a little more revenue as a result, but it hasn't yet pulled our economy up. Things are just pretty much the same.

3:55PM PST on Jan 25, 2012

Great news...

3:43PM PST on Jan 25, 2012

I am a Minnesotan and am PROUD the court of appeals got the ruling right!

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