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ACLU Asks Federal Judge For Quick Ruling On Gay Marriage

Court news

The ACLU of Montana says a federal judge in Great Falls should rule in favor of gay marriage, without taking their lawsuit to trial.

The group filed suit to overturn Montana’s gay marriage ban in April, on behalf of four same sex couples,
some were married in other states, others are trying to get married in Montana.

Today they asked U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris to rule in their favor without a trial, since the federal appeals court with jurisdiction over Montana struck down similar bans in Idaho and Nevada on October seventh.

Jim Taylor is legal director for the ACLU of Montana.

"If you look at the bans on same sex marriage in Nevada and Idaho, they’re virtually identical to Montana’s," Taylor says. "So, if our people are situated the same, if our laws are written the same, we think that the result is clear that the court should apply the Idaho decision and the Nevada decision and strike down the Montana ban on same sex marriage."

Taylor says the motion the ACLU filed today is just the start of a process that could take several weeks to complete.

"The state is entitled to up to three weeks to file a response," Taylor says. "We would be entitled to a couple weeks to file a reply. The court may or may not set the matter for argument; probably he would. Then we'd have argument, then the court would take however long he thinks is appropriate to decide the case. He might think 'no, there's there's fact that are contested that we should have trials about.' He may think the case is not developed enough or he may think that it’s ready for a decision right now."

Montana Voters approved the gay marriage ban in 2004 as an amendment to the state constitution.

Montana Department of Justice spokesman John Barnes says his office will continue to defend the constitutional amendment "until no further clear duty remains to do so."

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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