The ACLU today appealed a lawsuit brought on behalf of six gay and lesbian couples which was dismissed by a Montana District Judge in April.
District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock ruled Tuesday that an amendment to the Montana Constitution that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, has already settled the question. He says the question of granting gay couples the benefits, without allowing them to get married, is best left to the legislative process. The gay couples weren't asking for the right to marry in the lawsuit against the state. Rather they wanted be able to make burial, health care and other decisions, while enjoying such benefits as jointly filing taxes.
Said the ACLU today, in a statement:
The Montana Constitution guarantees that all people, including gay and lesbian couples, should be treated equally and fairly, the ACLU said. This case presents fundamental issues of privacy and equal protection that need to be resolved by Montana’s highest court.
“The couples we represent knew there might be some bumps along the way, but they are committed to seeing this case through so that they and all same-sex couples and their families can get the protections they need but are currently denied to them in Montana,” said ACLU of Montana legal director Betsy Griffing. “Our constitution requires that the state treat couples in committed relationships fairly and equally regardless of whether they are same-sex or different-sex couples.”
Here's the ACLU's page on the case.