Three same-sex couples from Minnesota filed a legal challenge Tuesday to a state law requiring marriage to be between a man and a woman, the same approach that led to legalized gay marriage in Iowa and other states.Let's hope this goes the way of Massachusetts and Iowa.
The couples' main claim is that the 1997 Minnesota ban on gay marriage violates their rights to due process, equal protection and freedom of conscience and association under the state constitution.
"The joys and benefits of marriage should be available to everyone," said the couples' lawyer, Peter Nickitas, who appeared with them at a news conference after filing the suit in Hennepin County District Court. However, legal experts and even some supporters of gay marriage say the suit could harm the cause by further galvanizing state law against it.
Plaintiffs Douglas Benson and Duane Gajewski of Robbinsdale have been together 20 years and already were "married" in Vermont, California and Canada. Thomas Trisko and John Rittman of Minneapolis said they've been a couple 36 years and were married in Canada.
Jessica Dykhuis and Lindzi Campbell of Duluth cuddled their 6-month-old son Sean Campbell, who also is a plaintiff.
"We have a responsibility to raise our children to do the right thing," Dykhuis said, explaining their decision to sue.
The group, led by Benson, calls itself Marry Me Minnesota. Some like-minded people don't agree with their strategy. The gay activist group OutFront Minnesota has opposed suing for marriage rights in Minnesota.
The state Supreme Court in 1971 was the first in the country to rule against same-sex marriage. The court found that the state didn't deprive a male couple of equal protection or of liberty or property without due process .
In 1997, the Legislature passed a so-called Defense of Marriage Act to make clear its intent that marriage be between a man and a woman.