The freedom to marry is coming to Montana; federal judge strikes down ban

Today, November 19, U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in Montana, striking down the ban on marriage between same-sex couples in the state.

The ruling is set to take effect "immediately," the judge ruled, meaning that same-sex couples in Montana should be free to marry now.

The Attorney General said shortly after the decision that he will appeal the decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Attorney General could also seek a stay from Judge Morris, but as we've seen time and again this month - from the 4th Circuit, from the 9th Circuit, and even from the United States Supreme Court - judges have repeatedly rejected requests for stays, because there's no good reason to delay the freedom to marry. 

The Governor of Montana, Steve Bullock, supports the freedom to marry. 

This is the 54th court ruling since June 2013 in favor of the freedom to marry. Just four courts - most notably, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit - have upheld marriage discrimination. Plaintiffs from the 6th Circuit cases, out of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, are now seeking review from that out-of-step ruling from the United States Supreme Court.

This ruling was in the case Rolando v. Fox, a federal legal case involving four couples, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana. The couples are Angie and Tonya Rolando, Shauna and Nicole Goubeaux, Ben Milano and Chase Weinhandl, and Sue Hawthorne and Adel Johnson. These couples were either married outside of Montana and denied respect in the state, or want to get married in the state.

"These families want for their children what all families in Montana want. Montana no longer can deprive Plaintiffs and other same-sex couples of the chance to marry their loves." - Judge Brian Morris

The eloquent ruling from Judge Morris reads

These families want for their children what all families in Montana want. They want to provide a safe and loving home in which their children have the chance to explore the world in which they live. They want their children to have the chance to discover their place in this world. And they want their children to have the chance to fulfill their highest dreams. These families, like all of us, want their children to adventure into the world without fear of violence; to achieve all that their talent and perseverance allows without fear of discrimination; and to love themselves so that they can love others. No family wants to deprive its precious children of the chance to marry the loves of their lives. Montana no longer can deprive Plaintiffs and other same-sex couples of the chance to marry their loves.

Read the full ruling here.

Angie and Tonya Rolando, plaintiffs in the federal marriage case, said today:

Calling Tonya my partner, my significant other, my girlfriend, my perpetual fiancé, has never done justice to our relationship. Now I can look forward to the day when I can introduce her as my wife. Love won today. 

Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson said today:

Montana’s same-sex couples and their loved ones want what all families want: joy, protections, security, and respect – and that's what the freedom to marry is all about. This ruling, in keeping with nearly every other court that has ruled in more than a year, brings us to 35 states with the freedom to marry -- but we are not done until we end marriage discrimination in all 50 states. It’s time for the Supreme Court to affirm the freedom to marry nationwide and bring our country to national resolution for all loving and committed couples in every state

In total, 54 decisions have been issued in favor of the freedom to marry in state and federal court since June 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the core of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in Windsor v. United States. Thirty-two rulings have been issued in federal court, fifteen have been issued in state court, and five have been issued by a federal appellate court. See all of the marriage rulings here.