Minneapolis mayor to wed SD couple challenging same-sex marriage ban
By Tad Vezner
St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges will officiate at the weekend marriage of a lesbian couple from South Dakota as the women prepare to take part in a groundbreaking lawsuit to force their home state to recognize their union.
The couple, Nancy Robrahn, 68, and Jennie Rosenkranz, 72, say that along with two other gay South Dakota couples, they plan to file a federal class-action lawsuit against state officials. Robrahn and Rosenkranz will argue that South Dakota should recognize same-sex marriages when performed outside the state. In addition, the suit will seek to overturn South Dakota’s statewide same-sex marriage ban enacted by a constitutional amendment in 2006.
A spokesman for Hodges said she does not know Robrahn and Rosenkranz personally, but responded positively after those working with them reached out to her office. Their attorney, Joshua Newville of the Minneapolisbased Madia law firm, said the couple have been together for 27 years, have spent most of their lives in South Dakota, and have four children and six grandchildren. Newville said he will file the suit within two weeks in U.S. District Court in South Dakota.
He declined to specify the city where the suit would be filed. Robrahn and Rosenkranz’s marriage will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Community of Christ Church in North Minneapolis.
“We already consider ourselves married; this is a rededication of that marriage,” Robrahn said in a statement issued by Newville. “We are approaching the time when end of life decisions and plans need to be made. There are many federal protections that will become available to us through this Minnesota marriage. We hope to see the day when couples like us don’t have to travel out of South Dakota to marry.”
Same-sex marriage was legalized in Minnesota last year. It’s legal in 16 other states and the District of Columbia. The U.S. Supreme Court last year found that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage, improperly deprived gay couples of due process. Lower-court judges have repeatedly cited the Supreme Court decision in striking down state same-sex marriage bans. They have ruled against bans in Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Texas, and ordered Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. There are lawsuits challenging such restrictions in all but four states — Alaska, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.
— The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.