Same-sex marriage in South Dakota

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Legal status of same-sex unions

* Not yet in effect, but automatic deadline set by judicial body for same-sex marriage to become legal

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Same-sex marriage is legal in the U.S. state of South Dakota.[1] The United States Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, 2015, that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Attorney General Marty Jackley issued a statement critical of the ruling but said South Dakota is obligated to comply with it.[2]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]


South Dakota voters adopted a constitutional amendment in November 2006 that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman and prohibited the recognition of same-sex relationships under any other name, such as civil unions and domestic partnership agreements.[3] Similar restrictions appear in the state statutes as well.[4][5]


Rosenbrahn v. Daugaard[edit]

On May 22, 2014, six same-sex couples filed a federal lawsuit against South Dakota officials seeking the right to marry and recognition of marriages performed in other jurisdictions. The suit, Rosenbrahn v. Daugaard, was brought by Minneapolis civil rights attorney Joshua A. Newville, who filed a similar lawsuit on behalf of seven same-sex couples in North Dakota on June 6, 2014.[6] U.S. District Court Judge Karen Schreier heard arguments on October 17. The state defendants argued she was bound by the Eighth Circuit's decision in Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning (2006), which the plaintiffs said did not address the questions they are raising in this case.[7] On November 12, Judge Schreier denied the defense's motion to dismiss. She found Baker is no longer valid precedent and that Bruning did not address due process or the question of a fundamental right to marry. She dismissed the plaintiffs claim that South Dakota violates their right to travel.[8] On January 12, 2015, she ruled for the plaintiffs, finding that South Dakota was depriving them of their "fundamental right to marry". She stayed implementation of her ruling pending appeal.[9] On February 10, the plaintiffs asked her to lift the stay, citing the U.S. Supreme Court's denial of a stay in Alabama cases the previous day.[10] Two days later they requested an expedited response to that request.[11]

South Dakota has recognized and performed marriages for same-sex couples since the decision of the Supreme Court on June 26, 2015. In light of this development, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the judgement of the district court on August 12, 2015; however, the decision left the decision of whether or not to vacate the stay of permanent injunction of the laws discriminating against same-sex couples to the district court.[12]

Marriage statistics[edit]

From June 26 to July 27, 2015, 40 same-sex couples were granted marriage licenses in the state.[13]

By June 26, 2016, 157 marriage licenses had been issued to same-sex couples in South Dakota. This made up around 2% of all issued marriage licenses in the state. Minnehaha County issued 40 same-sex marriage licenses.[14]

By June 17, 2017, 283 same-sex couples had been granted marriage licenses in South Dakota.[15]

Public opinion[edit]

A 2017 poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 52% of South Dakotans supported same-sex marriage, while 37% were opposed and 11% were unsure or undecided.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Liptak, Adam (June 26, 2015). "Supreme Court Ruling Makes Same-Sex Marriage a Right Nationwide". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "Divided United States Supreme Court Holds State Marriage Laws Prohibiting Same-sex Marriage Unconstitutional". South Dakota State News. June 26, 2015. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
  3. ^ CNN: 2006 Key Ballot Measures, accessed April 10, 2011
  4. ^ Human Rights Campaign: South Dakota Marriage/Relationship Recognition Law, accessed April 10, 2011
  6. ^ Howard, Adam (May 23, 2014). "Gay couples sue South Dakota to overturn same-sex marriage ban". MSNBC. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  7. ^ Young, Steve (October 17, 2014). "No quick decision made in S.D. gay marriage lawsuit". Argus Leader. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  8. ^ "Order on Motion to Dismiss". U.S. District Court for South Dakota. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  9. ^ "Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment". U.S. District Court for South Dakota. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
  10. ^ "Emergency Motion". U.S. District Court for South Dakota. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  11. ^ "Plaintiffs' Motion to set an expedited response schedule". U.S. District Court for South Dakota. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  12. ^ "8th Circuit Decision in Rosenbrahn v. Daugaard" (PDF). US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  13. ^ "Only 40 Gay Couples Apply To Be Married In S.D. In 1st Month". CBS Local. July 28, 2015.
  14. ^ Johnson, Jill (June 28, 2016). "SD Issues 157 Same-Sex Marriage Licenses One Year After Supreme Court Ruling".
  15. ^ Anderson, Patrick (June 17, 2017). "Two years in, same-sex marriages in S.D. number in the hundreds". Argus Leader. Archived from the original on June 17, 2017. Retrieved June 17, 2017.
  16. ^ Public opinion on same-sex marriage by state: South Dakota