Minnesota Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging State’s Ban on Same-Sex Marriage; Plaintiffs to Appeal

A Minnesota judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought in May 2010 by three gay couples, Duane Gajewski and Doug Benson, Lindzi Campbell and Jesse Dykhuis, John Rittman and Tom Trisko, challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

Minnesota The Star-Tribune reports:

In an order signed Monday, District Judge Mary Dufresne rejected an argument by the group Marry Me Minnesota that the state's 13-year-old Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates same-sex couples' rights to due process, equal protection, religious freedom and freedom of association.

"Unless and until" the state Supreme Court overrules a 1971 decision limiting marriage to a man or a woman or repeals DOMA, Dufresne wrote, "Same-sex marriage will not exist in this state."

The couples plan to appeal, according to Benson:

“We didn’t know what the judges were going to do when we decided to pursue the lawsuit,” Benson told the Minnesota Independent. “We are going to continue to head down the road.”

The couples plan to appeal shortly, Benson said. He added that the decision amounted to a pass by the lower court which thinks the Minnesota Supreme Court will have to decide the case. The highest court had weighed in almost four decades ago in Baker v. Nelson, which ruled that the state could ban gay marriage. The plaintiffs are hoping that enough laws and attitudes have changed that the court would overturn that precedent.

Benson is the executive director of Marry Me Minnesota, a non-profit group founded by the plaintiffs.


  1. says

    The timing of this is pretty bad in Minnesota. The GOP has new majorities in both the state House and Senate, and have stated very clearly their intent to pass a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman. While we have a Democratic governor, constitutional amendments passed by the legislature do not require his signature. This case winding its way through the courts will make the arguments of the pro-Aamendment forces for them.

  2. jpeckjr says

    The marriage equality situation in MN is complicated by the 1971 state Supreme Court decision, probably the first ruling on gay marriage by any court in the country. Maybe this case is the one that will give the state Supreme Court the opportunity to reverse itself.

  3. Randy says

    Baker v Neslon was wrongly decided based on institutional homophobia, and is certainly irrelevant in light of new precedent set by US Supreme Court cases Romer v Evans and Lawrence v Texas. This case should not have been dismissed, and I expect the court will be ordered to hear the case.

  4. BillyBoy says

    Hue-man: this wasn’t a MN Supreme Court judge, just the lowest level

    Confusing in that the case was brought based on state constitutional issues and the judge denied it based on Baker v. Nelson, a case in which only federal constitutional issues were raised. The judge is constrained by precedent but WTF?

    Still: not unexpected at this stage.

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