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Forum editorial: Marriage ban still in ND law

Today's issue:State marriage definition must be changed in law.Our position:Bipartisan sentiment to get it done is practical, sensible.A rare bipartisan voice of reason was heard this week in the halls of the North Dakota Capitol. Two legislators...

Today’s issue:
State marriage definition must be changed in law.

Our position:
Bipartisan sentiment to get it done is practical, sensible.

A rare bipartisan voice of reason was heard this week in the halls of the North Dakota Capitol. Two legislators, often on opposite sides of issues and policy, agreed the Legislature must bring the language of state law regarding the definitions of marriage into compliance with a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Sen. David Hogue, R-Minot and Sen. Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks, who are “learned in the law,” agreed the state’s language should be changed to avoid problems in the future. They spoke at an interim Judiciary Committee meeting.
They are right, even if Hogue doesn’t like marriage definition law as interpreted by the high court. “I accept it as the law of the land” … “so I think it (state language) should be changed,” he said. Schneider, who thinks the high court was right, noted “the practical impact” on North Dakotans if state law language is not changed to reflect the new legal reality.
The court ruling in effect nullified North Dakota’s 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Federal courts struck down the ban, and the high court refused to review those decisions.
State law also includes definitions of marriage and spouse that conflict with the federal court rulings. In all, some 70 sections of state law need revisions. Hogue and Schneider were voices of practical reason when they urged the state to get on with making the changes, which will take some time to complete.
No doubt there are lawmakers who will resist updating state law. They apparently want to continue to make a statement -- to play the quixotic game that is already lost. That is their right. But the state has tilted at enough legal windmills in recent years, losing nearly every time. Making a statement might feel good, but it will accomplish nothing.

 

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