Couples Challenge Same Sex Marriage Ban - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Couples Challenge Same Sex Marriage Ban

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Seventeen states have implemented same sex marriage, and the issue is being debated in several more. North Dakota may soon face a court challenge to its ban on those unions.

Some people say North Dakota's ban on same sex marriage is discriminatory.

"It's really an issue of equality. Where same sex marriage is now is the same place where interracial marriage was earlier. Who you love and how you formalize that relationship should not be based on gender anymore than it should be based on race or any other factor other than the love you share," says advocate Matthew Leidholm.

But Monsignor Tom Richter says God is the author of marriage. And by his definition, marriage is between a man and a woman. He says no matter how it's redefined, some people will be excluded.

"In trying to achieve an argument opposing discrimination, what definition could you possibly give? Because, the nature of definition is to define something, and thus, that which doesn't fit into that definition is excluded," says Monsignor Tom Richter of Cathedral.

State advocates of same sex marriage have reached out to a Minnesota attorney about challenging the ban. Joshua Newville says he hasn't agreed to take the case, but he's considering it.

He's spoken to both advocates and attorneys about what bringing a challenge to North Dakota would look like.

"Even if I don't bring a case in North Dakota, someone's going to. This is a very important historic discussion that North Dakotans deserve to be at the table for. And that's all North Dakotans, not just same sex couples. Our country is engaged in a topic on this discussion that needs to be taken seriously, and North Dakota shouldn't be left out," says Newville.

He says it's an issue of constructional law.

"It targets a specific class of people and says you can't get married and we're not going to recognize your marriages from other jurisdictions. For the exact same reasons that the federal Defense of Marriage Act failed, so should the statutory ban and the amendment in North Dakota," says Newville.

Monsignor Richter says while the Catholic Church doesn't support gay marriage, they don't discriminate against gay men and women.

"The church is all for people who have same sex attraction to be good friends, to have lifelong friends, to have friends that show support... but being friends doesn't somehow mean we're married," says Richter.

The next step is to file a complaint in state or federal court. And Newville says he imagines it will happen in the next few months.

Several North Dakota couples have chosen to get married out-of-state. While the federal government recognizes their marriages, the state does not.

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