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South Dakota Must Allow Gay Marriage: Judge

A federal judge in South Dakota on Monday struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage as supporters and opponents of gay nuptials wait to see if the Supreme Court will settle the issue nationwide.

U.S. District Court Judge Karen E. Schreier said the state prohibition denied gay couples the right to due process and equal protection as guaranteed by the Constitution — often cited by many of the federal judges throwing out same-sex marriage bans.

But the judge stayed her ruling pending appeal, meaning no same-sex marriages can take place yet.

“Plaintiffs have a fundamental right to marry. South Dakota law deprives them of that right solely because they are same-sex couples and without sufficient justification,” Schreier said in her decision.

State Attorney General Marty Jackley noted the decision and stay in a press release: “It remains the State’s position that the institution of marriage should be defined by the voters of South Dakota and not the federal courts."

Thirty-six states - excluding South Dakota - and the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to wed. Four gay marriage cases are seeking review from the Supreme Court, which many experts believe will ultimately resolve the question of whether same-sex nuptials should be legal.

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