North Dakota gay couples sue for marriage equality

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Thirty-one states face lawsuits filed by gay couples over marriage.

Seven same-sex couples in North Dakota filed a lawsuit in federal court on June 6 challenging the state’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality.

The North Dakota case was filed by Minneapolis attorney Josh Newville, who recently filed a similar case on behalf of six South Dakota couples.

North Dakota had been the last remaining state with a marriage ban and no court case challenging it. There are now 31 states where couples are challenging bans against same-sex marriages in the courts, either at the state or federal level. There are more than 70 marriage equality cases on the dockets, including one likely to go to trial in Wisconsin in August.

So far five federal appeals courts are presiding over 10 marriage equality cases over the coming weeks and months.

And since the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic marriage rulings last year, no state marriage ban has survived a court challenge. 

The filing of this case in North Dakota coincides with the release of new poll results by the Washington Post and ABC News which show that 50 percent of Americans believe that gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection clause. Additionally, 56 percent of Americans and 77 percent of those under the age of thirty support marriage rights for same-sex couples.  Today’s results are the latest in an ever-expanding trend showing Americans moving inexorably in the direction of supporting equality for same-sex couples.

In addition to 77 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds, marriage equality enjoys broad support from 30- to 39-year-olds — 68 percent. Even 50 percent of those between the ages of 40 and 64 support marriage equality.  During the 2012 presidential election, 84 percent of voters fell into one of these age brackets where there is majority support for marriage equality.   

Among those who say they strongly oppose marriage equality, nearly half say it’s not even “somewhat” important to them. Conversely, only 19 percent of strong marriage equality supporters put such low priority on the issue. In fact, 81 percent of strong supporters say it's at least "somewhat" important.

Same-sex couples can marry in 19 states and the District of Columbia.