Appeals Court Rules for Couples Challenging Minnesota Ban on Same-Sex Marriage, Says Case Must Be Heard

A Minnesota appeals court today ruled that District Judge Mary Dufresne wrongfully dismissed a 2010 lawsuit brought by three gay couples when she rejected the couples' claims on the basis of Baker vs. Nelson, a 1971 Minnesota Supreme Court decision that said limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples does not violate the U.S. Constitution.

MinnesotaThe Star-Tribune reports:

In the 15-page unpublished ruling, the Appeals Court ruled that Dufresne was right when she threw out the suit because the state was not an eligible defendant and because it did not violate the couples' religious freedom, but that she improperly relied on the Baker case. The couples should be granted an opportunity in district court to prove their rights were violated, Judge Renee L. Worke wrote.

"…Even if the right to marry is not considered a fundamental right, appellants should have been granted an opportunity to show that MN DOMA is not a reasonable means to its stated objective — to promote opposite-sex marriages to encourage procreation," Worke wrote.

The case will now return to Hennepin County District Court where it will likely proceed to trial, the paper reports.

The plaintiffs include Doug Benson, executive director of Marry Me Minnesota, and his partner, Duane Gajewski of Robbinsdale; Tom Trisko and his partner, John Rittman of Minneapolis; and Jessica Dykhuis and her partner, Lindzi Campbell of Duluth, plus their son, Sean Campbell.


  1. TampaZeke says

    They should get a UCC couple to bring a suit based on the fact that the law violates their, and their denomination’s, freedom of religion.

  2. MiloTock says

    While this is nominally a victory, does this just play right into the hands of the other side? Now those who are in favor of an MN constitutional amendment can scream that this case just proves that having a state DOMA on the books is not sufficient because “activist” judges could overturn it, and that they only way they can “protect” marriage is with a constitutional amendment.

  3. Terry says

    This kind of does play into the hands of the other side, however, the amendment is unconstitutional anyway. It is only a matter of time before the STATUTE AND AMENDMENT are overturned. Sometimes you have to sue in order to get your rights recognized.

    If Baker is ruled to violate the MN AND US Constitution and the statute as well as Baker v Nelson overturned, that gives little weight to the amendment which will also be litigated in court

  4. alb68 says

    The “activist” judge argument doesn’t really resonate in this case. The author of the unanimous opinion was appointed by Tim Pawlenty. The other 2 judges were appointed by Arne Carlson (republican) and Jesse Ventura (Independence party).