Seven couples filed a federal lawsuit Friday challenging the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in North Dakota, making it the last state in the country to be sued by couples seeking the right to marry in their home state.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Fargo, challenges both North Dakota’s constitutional ban on gay marriage and its refusal to recognize marriages of same-sex couples who legally wed in other states. That means cases are currently pending in all 31 states with gay marriage bans. Judges have overturned several of those bans since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year.
North Dakota attorney general’s office said it had not yet seen the suit and was not commenting. The 2004 voter-approved constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was passed by 73 percent of voters.
Legal experts said the lawsuit is largely symbolic, but could carry more serious weight.
“It’s symbolic but sometimes symbolism is important, right? I think it has real, practical, actual effects on people nationwide and in North Dakota,” said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law who studies constitutional law.