Montana joins the marriage equality states

wedding bands over rainbow flag

wedding bands over rainbow flagMontana’s marriage ban was overturned by a federal judge, making it the 34th state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage.

U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris’ order was effective immediately. “Montana no longer can deprive Plaintiffs and other same-sex couples of the chance to marry their loves. This Court recognizes that not everyone will celebrate this outcome,” he wrote in the ruling.  

“This case is about equality and basic fairness,” said ACLU of Montana Legal Director Jim Taylor. “The courts have recognized that there is no legitimate basis on which to deny the right to marry to committed same-sex couples. All Montanans have an equal right to the legal protections and respect that marriage brings. This ruling takes that constitutional principle of equal protection and makes it a reality in Montana.”

Couples in the ACLU’s lawsuit challenging Montana’s marriage amendment are Angie and Tonya Rolando of Great Falls, Shauna and Nicole Goubeaux of Billings, Ben Milano and Chase Weinhandl of Bozeman and Sue Hawthorne and Adel Johnson of Helena. Angie and Tonya Rolando are seeking to get married in Montana and the other three couples are seeking to have marriages from other states recognized by Montana.

“Montana is no longer left in the cold. It joins the ranks of states where all committed, loving couples can
marry,” says Elizabeth Gill, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “This brings marriage equality to 35 states and counting.”

In addition to Taylor and Gill, the couples are represented by Ben Alke and James Goetz of Goetz, Gallik & Baldwin P.C.; and Stuart Plunkett, Ruth Borenstein, Ariel Ruiz, and Emily Regier of the law firm Morrison & Foerster LLP.

“This decision overturns a Montana Constitutional amendment approved by the voters of Montana. Yet the United States Constitution exists to protect disfavored minorities from the will of the majority,” the judge said.

Judge Morris added, “The time has come for Montana to follow all the other states within the Ninth Circuit and recognize laws that ban same-sex marriage violate the constitutional right of same-sex couples to equal protection of the laws.”