In a 28-page decision, U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier ruled that “Plaintiffs have a fundamental right to marry. South Dakota law deprives them of that right solely because they are same-sex couples and without sufficient justification.”
The six plaintiff families are from across the state and include veterans, nurses, a stay-at-home mom, a truck driver, a couple who have been together 30 years, and couples with children and grandchildren. They are represented by Joshua Newville of the Minneapolis firm Madia Law LLC, Debra Voigt of Burd and Voigt Law Offices in Sioux Falls, SD, and Shannon Minter and Christopher F. Stoll of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).
NCLR Senior Staff Attorney Christopher F. Stoll said of the decision: “We are thrilled for our clients and for all same-sex couples in South Dakota, who have watched and waited as progress has been made in so many other states, and who can now see light at the end of the tunnel in their own state. We are also grateful to Judge Shreier for writing such a detailed and powerful analysis and for affirming in such strong terms that same-sex couples have the same fundamental freedom to marry as others. We hope this decision will hasten the day when the Supreme Court decides this issue for the country and ensures that all families are treated fairly and equally under the law.”
Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson said: “Today’s ruling out of South Dakota affirms what nearly every court in the past year has held: loving and committed same-sex couples are guaranteed the freedom to marry by the U.S. Constitution. Every day of denial is a day of tangible hardships for same-sex couples and their families. The Supreme Court should take up a case as soon as possible and end marriage discrimination once and for all.”
In total, virtually every federal and state court has ruled in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples with only one appellate court ruling the other way.