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Daugaard says he's ready for a gay marriage lawsuit

PIERRE -- Gov. Dennis Daugaard said he expects a lawsuit to be filed challenging South Dakota's definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.

Daugaard said Monday he expects the constitutional requirement to be challenged in court and supports state Attorney General Marty Jackley in defending it.

"I do think it is the duty of our attorney general to defend," Daugaard said. "I think it's an issue that we should defend."

Daugaard made his remarks in response to questions during a program on Pierre radio station KCCR.

South Dakota voters approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage in 2006. The two sentences say:

"Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in South Dakota.

"The uniting of two or more persons in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other quasi-marital relationship shall not be valid or recognized in South Dakota."

The Legislature put the amendment on the ballot, with the results 172,305 yes and 160,152 no.

Daugaard said he voted for the amendment in the election. The South Dakota Legislature passed a law in 1996 banning gay marriage.

Two South Dakota women from Rapid City wed in Minneapolis last weekend plan to seek legal recognition of their marriage in South Dakota.

Nancy Robrahn, 68, and Jennie Rosenkranz, 72, have been together 27 years. Minneapolis lawyer Joshua Newville said Friday he took the case after the couple was unable to find an attorney in South Dakota.

South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Alaska are the only states with a ban on same-sex marriage but no pending court cases challenging its constitutionality, according to Human Rights Campaign, a group advocating for gay rights.

Robrahn and Rosenkranz already were denied a South Dakota marriage license, which gives them standing to legally challenge the state ban, Newville said. After they're married in Minnesota, they plan to ask the Pennington County clerk in Rapid City for a legal name change and, most likely, be denied. That would allow them to file a lawsuit in federal court to challenge a U.S. provision allowing states not to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, he said.

Two other women from western South Dakota who were married in Connecticut and two men from the eastern part of the state who are getting married soon in Iowa also plan to join the lawsuit, Newville said.

Daugaard also said he opposes allowing medical marijuana in South Dakota because it has evolved into recreational use in other states where it is legal.