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Rosenbrahn v. Daugaard

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division

January 12, 2015

JENNIE ROSENBRAHN, NANCY ROSENBRAHN, JEREMY COLLER, CLAY SCHWEITZER, LYNN SERLING-SWANK, MONICA SERLING-SWANK, KRYSTAL COSBY, KAITLYNN HOERNER, BARBARA WRIGHT, ASHLEY WRIGHT, GREG KNIFFEN, and MARK CHURCH, Plaintiffs,
v.
DENNIS DAUGAARD, in his official capacity as Governor; MARTY JACKLEY, in his official capacity as Attorney General; DONEEN HOLLINGSWORTH, in her official capacity as Secretary of Health; TREVOR JONES, in his official capacity as Secretary of Public Safety; and CAROL SHERMAN, in her official capacity as Brown County Register of Deeds; Defendants

Page 863

For Jennie Rosenbrahn, Nancy Rosenbrahn, Jeremy Coller, Clay Schweitzer, Lynn Serling-Swank, Monica Serling-Swank, Krystal Cosby, Kaitlynn Hoerner, Barbara Wright, Ashley Wright, Greg Kniffen, Mark Church, Plaintiffs: Debra M. Voigt, LEAD ATTORNEY, Burd & Voigt Law Office, Sioux Falls, SD; Joshua A. Newville, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Madia Law LLC, Minneapolis, MN; Christopher F. Stoll, Shannon P. Minter, PRO HAC VICE, National Center for Lesbian Rights, San Francisco, CA.

For Dennis Daugaard, in his official capacity as Governor, Marty Jackley, in his official capacity as Attorney General, Doneen Hollingsworth, in her official capacity as Secretary of Health, Trevor Jones, in his official capacity as Secretary of Public Safety, Defendants: Jeffrey P. Hallem, LEAD ATTORNEY, Attorney General's Office, Pierre, SD; Roxanne Giedd, LEAD ATTORNEY, Attorney General of South Dakota, Pierre, SD.

For Carol Sherman, in her official capacity as Brown County Register of Deeds, Defendant: Justin Lee Bell, Robert B. Anderson, LEAD ATTORNEYS, May, Adam, Gerdes & Thompson, Pierre, SD.

Page 864

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

KAREN E. SCHREIER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Plaintiffs, Jennie and Nancy Rosenbrahn, Jeremy Coller and Clay Schweitzer, Lynn and Monica Serling-Swank, Krystal Cosby and Kaitlynn Hoerner, Barbara and Ashley Wright, and Greg Kniffen and Mark Church, brought this action against defendants Dennis Daugaard, Marty Jackley, Doneen Hollingsworth, Trevor Jones, and Carol Sherman in their official capacities, alleging that South Dakota's marriage laws violate the United States Constitution. Plaintiffs move for summary judgment. Defendants resist that motion and move for summary judgment in their favor. For the following reasons, the court grants plaintiffs' motion and denies defendants' motion.

BACKGROUND

The undisputed facts[1] are as follows:

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South Dakota law prohibits same-sex marriage. SDCL 25-1-1 declares in pertinent part, " Marriage is a personal relation, between a man and a woman . . . ." SDCL 25-1-38 states that South Dakota recognizes as valid any marriage entered into in another state " except a marriage contracted between two persons of the same gender." In 2006, South Dakota voters approved Amendment C to the South Dakota Constitution, which reads:

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.

S.D. Const. art. 21 § 9.

Plaintiffs are six same-sex couples impacted by South Dakota's marriage laws. Nancy and Jennie Rosenbrahn live in Rapid City, South Dakota. They have lived together for nearly thirty years and have numerous children and grandchildren. When they decided to marry, they were unable to obtain a marriage license in South Dakota. With the exception of being a same-sex couple, they meet all other requirements for a valid marriage in South Dakota. The Rosenbrahns were validly married in Minnesota, but South Dakota does not recognize their marriage. As a consequence, the Rosenbrahns state that they have endured indignity and humiliation. Additionally, Nancy may be unable to inherit the couple's mobile home ...


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