Four Gay Couples Sue Montana Over Same-Sex Marriage Ban - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Four Gay Couples Sue Montana Over Same-Sex Marriage Ban

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GREAT FALLS -

The fight for same-sex marriage lands in Montana, as four gay couples file a lawsuit against the state over the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

The ban was passed by voters in 2004.

The Montana lawsuit was being filed Wednesday in federal court in Great Falls, with help from the Montana ACLU. It lists as plaintiffs four Montana couples who are either unmarried or were married outside the state.

Four gay couples are suing Montana over its constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

The lawsuit alleges the ban denies same-sex couples the freedom and dignity afforded to other Montanans, and denies them the state and federal legal protections and benefits that come with marriage.

“It isn’t the government’s place to stand in the way of someone’s happiness,” says ACLU of Montana Legal Director Jim Taylor. “It’s the government’s place to provide equal protection under the law. Excluding same-sex couples from marriage is a clear violation of our nation’s guarantee of equal protection. Every couple should have the freedom to marry and to have the legal protections to care for one another that marriage provides.”

The plaintiffs in the case 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.

“We want Aden to grow up knowing that we are a family like any other family,” says Shauna Goubeaux of her and wife Nicole’s 1 year-old son. The two married in Iowa, but that marriage is not recognized in Montana. “Marriage is part of being a family. By being plaintiffs in this case we are showing him his mommies will stand up for what is right and stand up for him.”

“An amazing change has taken place over the past few years as more Americans embrace the idea that same-sex couples should have the freedom to marry,” says Elizabeth Gill, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “It’s time for Montana to join the march toward equality for all loving and committed couples across the country.”

Governor Bullock released the following statement concerning the legal action filed today in Federal Court challenging Montana’s prohibition against marriage equality:

“Montanans cherish our freedom and recognize the individual dignity of every one of us. The time has come for our state to recognize and celebrate – not discriminate against – two people who love one another, are committed to each other, and want to spend their lives together. I look forward to a future where all Montanans have the opportunity to marry the person they love, just as Lisa and I did almost 15 years ago. We are on the path to greater understanding and equality, and we will all be better for it.”

North Dakota and South Dakota are now the only two states with gay marriage bans and no lawsuits seeking to overturn them.




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