S.D. Lesbians Prepare to Marry, Sue State for Recognition

South Dakota is one of just four states without pending litigation seeking the freedom to marry, but all that will change this weekend.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

April 25 2014 1:50 PM ET

Jennie Rosenkranz (left) and Nancy Robrahn

A lesbian couple from South Dakota who have been together for nearly 30 years will get married in Minneapolis this weekend, then return home and demand that South Dakota recognize their marriage. 

Nancy Robrahn, 68, and Jennie Rosenkranz, 72, a Rapid City, S.D., couple with four children and six grandchildren, will travel to Minneapolis Saturday to marry, after 27 years together. The couple will be married in a private ceremony at the Community of Christ Church in Minneapolis by the city's mayor, Betsy Hodges, who will introduce the couple as "Mrs. and Mrs. Rosenbrahn," according to a statement from the Minneapolis-based law firm representing the couple

After the newlyweds return home to South Dakota, they will join two other same-sex couples in filing a federal class-action lawsuit seeking to overturn the state's 2006 voter-approved constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage or the recognition of any such legal marriages performed in other jurisdictions. 

"We are approaching the time when end of life decisions and plans need to be made.  There are many federal protections that will become available to us through this Minnesota marriage," said Robrahn in a statement on Madia Law, LLC's website. "We hope to see the day when couples like us don’t have to travel out of South Dakota to marry."

The attorney representing the couple as well as the other soon-to-be-plaintiffs notes that a federal civil rights lawsuit will be filed in U.S. District Court soon, seeking to enact marriage equality in South Dakota and force the state to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. 

"These couples show that love and commitment exist in South Dakota just as they exist in Minnesota and beyond," said Joshua Newville of Madia Law. "South Dakota has failed to treat all of its citizens with the dignity and respect deserved by all people. With the filing of this lawsuit, we will lead South Dakota down a better path."

South Dakota's attorney general, Republican Marty Jackley, told the Associated Press that he's required to uphold the laws of the state and will defend the existing constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in court if a lawsuit challenging it is filed. 

Once that lawsuit is filed, North Dakota, Montana, and Alaska will be the only U.S. states without marriage equality or litigation seeking to establish the freedom to marry currently pending in state or federal court. Nationwide, there are 65 separate cases seeking marriage equality in 31 states and territories, including Puerto Rico, according to advocacy group Freedom to Marry.

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