This week, we’re expecting Nancy and Jennie Rosenbrahn, two adorable South Dakota seniors, to file suit against the state. They don’t want anything too fancy: just to have their marriage license recognized.
Last week, the Rosenbrahns crossed state lines to get a license in Minnesota. (Congrats on getting hitched, ladies!) But now the Attorney General of South Dakota, Marty Jackley, says he’ll see them in court before the state will recognize their relationship.
South Dakota’s one of only four states that doesn’t yet have a marriage equality lawsuit. The others are Alaska, Montana, and North Dakota. But you can kind of scratch Alaska off that list, because they just got a major ruling in a case that’s marriage-adjacent. The state Supreme Court has decided that it’s unconstitutional for the state to treat gay couples differently from straight couples when it comes to taxation.
In practical terms, nobody’s quite sure what that’s going to mean. It’s not an explicit direction to repeal the state’s marriage ban. But it’s also a pretty ambiguous finding that the marriage ban has to go, one way or another. Expect more litigation and plenty of hubbub from antigay legislators.
And that’s not the end of the legal turmoil in the last week. In North Carolina, the United Church of Christ has sued the state over its marriage ban. They argue that by preventing gay members from conducting marriages for gay couples, the state is violating their religious freedom. This is a fairly novel approach, and a bit different from the equal protection and due process arguments we’ve seen in other states. It’s anyone’s guess how far this claim will go before various other states reach the Supreme Court this autumn.