July 2014: US Gay Marriage News

Associated Press

North Dakota Seeks Dismissal Of Gay Marriage Suit

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - 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 striking down bans in other states.

The state attorney general's office filed the motion July 1 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. Since then, gay rights advocates have won 18 cases in federal and state courts.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem on Wednesday said his office is duty bound to defend the ban, despite what appears to be a growing national tide in support of gay marriage.

North Dakota is the last state with a gay marriage ban to be sued by same-sex couples. A second lawsuit challenging North Dakota's ban has since been filed in federal court by a Fargo couple legally married in Minnesota.

Bahr argues that the U.S. Constitution doesn't require North Dakota to recognize legal same-sex marriages in other states.

"The fact North Dakota's marriage laws are different from the marriage laws of some other states does not establish a viable claim that the challenged provisions violate the right to interstate travel," he wrote.

Indiana AG Cautions Clerks On Gay Marriage

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indiana attorney general's office says county clerks who issued marriage licenses last week to same-sex couples should not grant any more of those licenses.

A federal appeals court on Tuesday ordered Indiana to recognize the marriage of one lesbian couple. That emergency order applies only to Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney, who's fighting advanced ovarian cancer.

That move came after the same court on Friday stayed a federal judge's ruling striking down Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional.

The attorney general's office says the stay put hundreds of marriage licenses issued same-sex couples and gay weddings performed in Indiana before the stay in legal limbo.

The office is advising clerks not to issue any more marriage licenses to same-sex couples or perform any more gay weddings.

Colorado Attorney General Sues Over Gay Marriage

DENVER (AP) - Colorado's Republican attorney general on July 3 followed through with his threat to sue the Boulder County clerk for issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

Suthers and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper have said same-sex marriages should wait until the U.S. Supreme Court settles the question.

Boulder County District Judge Andrew Hartman will hear Suthers' lawsuit Wednesday morning.

In a statement after the lawsuit's filing, Hall said Suthers is "seeking to force me to violate the fundamental rights of gay and lesbian couples who apply for a marriage license."

Hall went on to say that it's Suthers' prerogative to take legal action until the Supreme Court rules on the issue, but she made clear she would not stop issuing licenses to gay couples.

The office had issued 105 licenses by the end of Thursday.

While the governor has not criticized Hall's actions, he said Thursday that because the decision from the appeals court is on hold, officials should wait until a higher court issues a definitive ruling.

ACLU To Judge: Lift Wisconsin Gay Marriage Stay

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union wants a federal judge to lift a stay on gay marriages in Wisconsin.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb declared Wisconsin's gay marriage ban unconstitutional in an ACLU lawsuit June 6.

Crabb issued an injunction a week later barring clerks from enforcing the ban but granted Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's request for a stay pending appeal.

The ACLU filed a motion Thursday to lift the stay, arguing Van Hollen has had weeks to file notice of an appeal but has done nothing in hopes of delaying a ruling as long as possible. The motion was referred to U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Crocker.

Van Hollen has until July 21 to file notice under court rules. His spokeswoman says the ACLU's impatience won't affect his timing.

Sides Square Off On Fla. Gay Marriage Ban

MIAMI (AP) - Attorneys for gay couples, the state of Florida and proponents of so-called traditional marriage squared off July 2 in a lawsuit seeking to overturn a ban on same-sex marriage enshrined in the state constitution by voters in 2008.

Attorney Jeffrey Cohen, representing the six same-sex couples who filed the lawsuit, asked Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel at a hearing to issue a ruling like those in 21 other cases nationwide declaring the ban unconstitutional.

Attorney General Pam Bondi, whose office intervened in the case just last week, takes the position that U.S. Supreme Court rulings _ including the one last year that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act _ give states sole power to define marriage. Zabel asked a lawyer for groups supporting the current ban.

"Peace and love!" shouted opponents of the ban. Staver also questioned the legal reasoning of the numerous state and federal judges who have recently voided other gay marriage bans and said society is better off with opposite-sex marriage.

"Without opposite-sex marriage, there is no procreation."

There are currently 19 states and the District of Columbia that allow same-sex marriage. A separate lawsuit filed in federal court in Tallahassee seeks an order forcing Florida to recognize legal same-sex marriages performed in other states. That case is also pending.

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