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The legalization of gay marriage in North Dakota is approaching
December 30, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
What's the difference between Utah's constitutional ban against gay marriage and North Dakota's? Nothing, and that very likely means gay marriage will be legal in this state far sooner than most people expect.
Earlier this month, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that Utah's ban on gay marriage violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Last week, the 10th Circuit Court in Denver turned down Utah's request for an emergency stay that would have put a halt to gay marriage in that state. Utah now plans to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Utah's constitutional amendment, passed in 2004, reads: "Marriage consists of the legal union between a man and a woman. No other domestic union, however denominated, may be recognized as a marriage or given the same or substantially equivalent legal effect." North Dakota's constitutional amendment, passed by voters the same year, is identical to Utah's.
The Supreme Court has already ruled last summer that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution. Under that ruling, gay couples who live in states where gay marriage is legal are entitled to receive federal benefits. The Utah case ought to give the Supremes a chance to finish the job and make gay marriage legal across the whole of the United States.
Perhaps legislators will decide to be sensible and pass uniform marriage laws so that anyone who is married in one state is also married in another. That should apply equally to first cousin couples, gay couples and couples of varying ages.
Gay marriage is now legal in Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, District of Columbia, New York, Washington, Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, and Utah. It is illegal in other states.
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