South Dakota

South Dakota

Rosenbrahn v. Daugaard

What's Happening:

On January 12, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Karen Schreier ruled in favor of the freedom to marry, declaring South Dakota's ban on marriage between same-sex couples unconstitutional. The ruling is stayed pending appeal to the 8th Circuit. The hearing in this case is scheduled for the week of May 11-May 15.

Joshua Newville of Madia Law LLC is leading the plaintiffs' case before the 8th Circuit.

Case Background:

On May 22, 2014, private attorneys Joshua Newville of Madia Law LLC and Debra Voigt of Burd And Voigt Law Office filed a federal lawsuit in South Dakota against Governor Daugaard, Attorney General Jackley, and other state officials on behalf of six South Dakota couples who are either unmarried or who have been legally married in another state. The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of a discriminatory state constitutional amendment in South Dakota that only respects marriages between one man and one woman, stating that it violates the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantees to equal protection.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights later joined as co-counsel. 

The lead plaintiffs in the case are Nancy and Jennie Rosenbrahn. Also represented are Jeremy Coller and Clay Schweitzer; Lynn and Monica Serling-Swank; Krystal Cosby and Kaitlyn Hoerner; Barbara and Ashley Wright; and Greg Kniffen and Mark Church. 

"We own our own home and own our own business - we have that security," Nancy told Freedom to Marry. "But a lot of people in South Dakota don't, and there are no laws protecting these people from being fired or losing their homes because of who they are. So we want to deliver a message to those people in South Dakota who can't be out loud and speak out - that there is hope for South Dakota. That marriage is one step on our path toward equal protection. That people across the state are committed to fighting beyond marriage and moving the state totally forward on equality. That things are changing - at last."

On October 17, 2014, a federal judge heard arguments on a motion to dismiss pending in this federal legal case challenging South Dakota's amendment denying the freedom to marry to same-sex couples.

On November 14, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Karen Schreier denied the state of South Dakota's motion to dismiss this federal case seeking the freedom to marry and respect for marriages legally performed in other states in South Dakota. Now, the ruling can proceed to a full decision on the merits of the case.

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