The last state in the country with a ban on same-sex marriage that hasn’t seen a legal challenge is no more.
Seven couples filed a federal lawsuit today challenging the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in North Dakota.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Fargo, challenges both North Dakota’s ban on gay marriage and its refusal to recognize the 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’s attorney general’s office said it had not yet seen the suit and thus could not comment on the specifics.
“It is important to remember, however, that it is the constitutional duty of the attorney general to represent the state when it is sued,” Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said in a statement. “Ultimately, only the Supreme Court can determine whether North Dakota’s enactment is constitutional or not.”
Legal experts said because North Dakota is the last state to file a lawsuit, a federal appeals court that covers North Dakota or even the U.S. Supreme Court could rule on another case first, making the lawsuit largely symbolic given all states with bans have now been challenged.