The Constitutional Amendment The state of North Dakota approved a constitutional amendment that restricts marriage to one woman and one man, bans same-sex marriage and limits civil unions which offer some rights to gay couples. Voting did not even have to end for the result to be clear; the ban already had 73 percent approval with only 85 percent of precincts reporting. The constitution reads: “Marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between one man and one woman to which the consent of the parties is essential. The marriage relation may be entered into, maintained, annulled, or dissolved only as provided by law. A spouse refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” The measure added the following: “marriage consists only of the legal union between a man and a woman. No other domestic union, however denominated, may be recognized as a marriage, or given the same or substantially equivalent legal effect” to Article 11 of the North Dakota Institution. What has turned out to be the case in many states was also true for North Dakota: gay marriage was already prohibited but a court override was feared, in this instance, by The Family Alliance. An addition to the constitution makes challenging the law much more difficult. Equality North Dakota’s Robert Uebel was not surprised by the outcome because gay marriage and LGBT rights in general are not often discussed but he figures it will eventually go the way of other civil rights issues like women’s suffrage. Renewed ActivismAlthough it may have seemed that the discussion on marriage equality was pretty much over in
North Dakota, one couple decided to try and change that in February 2012. A couple made up of two men from Fargo, Lenny Tweeden and Wayne Rosell, tried to get a marriage license in Cass County. Obviously, they knew what the outcome of their marriage application would be but their goal was to make a public challenge. Tweeden will be recruiting “team leaders” to help gather 26,904 signatures (by August 8th) to get the issue on the November 6 ballot. North Dakota is a socially conservative state and 2010 Census data showed that there are only about 1,113 same-sex couples in the state. This is most likely the case because adults tend to live where it is “more conducive to their lifestyle.” Furthermore, according to a staff advisor for the Gay-Straight alliance at Bismarck State College, Karla Buzick, there are no state laws protecting people from housing or employment discrimination which deters individuals from coming out to their friends, family and community. Some might argue that this issue needs to be the first addressed with legislation. Summary
- Can gay couples marry in North Dakota? No.
- Can gay couples enter into any legal relationship? No.