On May 21, 2014, the ACLU of Montana filed a federal lawsuit against the State of Montana on behalf of four same-sex couples seeking to marry or have their marriages recognized by the State. The lawsuit challenges Montana’s discriminatory marriage amendment providing that only marriage between one man and one woman will be recognized by the state.

On October 15, 2014, the ACLU filed a motion for summary judgment after the Ninth Circuit Court ruled in a unanimous opinion that Idaho and Nevada’s bans on marriage for same-sex couples are unconstitutional as discrimination based on sexual orientation under the federal Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. Montana is part of Ninth Circuit and federal district courts here use precedents from that circuit to make rulings.

In a victory for equality, the U.S. District Court of Montana ruled on November 19 in favor of the four same-sex couples represented by the ACLU of Montana in their quest to marry in Montana or have their marriages recognized by the state.

“Calling Tonya my partner, my significant other, my girlfriend, my perpetual fiancée has never done justice to our relationship. Now I can look forward to the day when I can introduce Tonya as my wife,” writes Angie Rolando, one of the plaintiffs in the case, in a blog she wrote to celebrate the occasion. “Love won today.”

Attorney(s)

Jim Taylor, ACLU of Montana; Elizabeth Gill, ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Project

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Ben Alke (Gallik & Baldwin P.C.), James Goetz (Goetz, Gallik & Baldwin P.C.), Stuart Plunkett (Morrison & Foerster LLP), Ruth Borenstein (Morrison & Foerster LLP)

Date filed

May 21, 2014

Court

United States District Court for the District of Montana Great Falls Division

Judge

Brian Morris

Status

Victory!

Case number

4:14-cv-00040-BMM

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