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Divided United States Supreme Court Holds State Marriage Laws Prohibiting Same-sex Marriage Unconstitutional




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:   Friday, June 26, 2015 
CONTACT:  Sara Rabern  (605) 773-3215 

Divided United States Supreme Court Holds State Marriage Laws Prohibiting
Same-sex Marriage Unconstitutional

PIERRE, S.D. – Attorney General Marty Jackley announced today that a very divided United States Supreme Court has issued its decision in Obergefell, et al. v. Hodges, et al., holding that the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to issue marriage licenses between two people of the same-sex.  The Court additionally held that states are required to recognize lawfully licensed out-of-state marriages between two people of the same sex.

“It has always been my position that the citizens of our state should define marriage, and not the federal government,” said Jackley.   “Five members of the U.S. Supreme Court have now determined neither the States nor our citizens have the right or the ability to define marriage. Because we are a Nation of laws the State will be required to follow the Court’s order that every State must recognize and license same-sex marriage.”

In November 2006, South Dakota voters approved a Constitutional Amendment making marriage valid only between a man and a woman. South Dakota voters approved this amendment by a vote of 172,242 to 160,173. South Dakota Constitution Article XXI, Section 9 mandated that only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in South Dakota. In addition, SDCL 25-1-1 defines marriage as a personal relation between man and a woman. The U.S. Supreme Court has now held our Constitution and statutes violate U.S. Constitution.

South Dakota’s constitutional provision and laws prohibiting same-sex marriage were held unconstitutional by the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota in Rosenbrahn et al. v. Daugaard et al. in January 2015.  That District Court stayed the enforcement of its judgment pending the appeal.  The Eighth Circuit previously deferred its ruling pending the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell.  The Rosenbrahn case is currently before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. 
Significantly, today’s Obergefell decision makes clear that the law of this Circuit was previously controlled by the Bruning decision, which upheld Nebraska’s Constitution and state statutes defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Accordingly, South Dakota has been acting under controlling case precedent.