On June 6, 2014, seven same-sex couples filed a federal lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry in North Dakota. The case challenged North Dakota’s laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying and refusing to respect the legal marriages of same-sex couples who married in other states.
The lawsuit argued that South Dakota’s laws barring same-sex couples from marrying and prohibiting the state from respecting the marriages of same-sex couples who married in other states violated the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. Six of the couples were legally married under the laws of other states. The seventh couple was unmarried and wished to marry in North Dakota.
The couples were Ron Ramsay and Peter Vandervort, Celeste and Amber Carlson Allebach, Brock Dahl and Austin Lang, Michele Harmon and Joy Haarstick, Bernie Erickson and David Hamilton, Matthew Lee Elmore and Beau Thomas Downey, and Stephanie and Siana Bock.
In addition to NCLR, the couples were represented by attorney Joshua Newville of the Minneapolis law firm Madia Law LLC, who filed the lawsuit on May 22, and Fargo attorney Thomas D. Fiebiger.
On July 22, 2014, the plaintiffs asked the United States District Court to declare the state’s ban on marriage equality unconstitutional. The seven couples filed a motion asking the court to rule that North Dakota’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples violated the equal protection and due process guarantees of the United States Constitution.
On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in NCLR’s Tennessee marriage case and cases from three other states affirming the freedom to marry in every state and U.S. territory.