A gay couple in Fargo plans to apply for a marriage license on Thursday, but they expect to be denied because same-sex marriage is banned under North Dakota law.
Lenny Tweeden and Wayne Rosell will apply for the license at 3 p.m. at the Cass County Courthouse. The couple, together for more than 25 years, told the Grand Forks Herald that the federal appeals court decision that declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional in California on Tuesday inspired their action. Tweeden has established a Facebook group, 10,000 for ND Gay Marriage, with more than 3,000 followers, and he wrote a letter to the editor of the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.
"Times are changing," he wrote. "Young people are not as homophobic as their parents or their grandparents. Gay and lesbian marriage is more accepted by the younger generation."
Rosell, whose been engaged for three years, told WDAY, "Why now? I guess because what's happening in the rest of the country toward gay marriage and somebody's got to step forward for it."
Same-sex couples are not allowed to marry under North Dakota law. Voters overwhelmingly passed a measure in 2004 limiting marriage to a man and a woman. The law also restricts civil unions.
Charlotte Sandvik, the Cass County treasurer who oversees licenses, told the Herald that, by law, she and her staff members cannot even provide a marriage application to the couple. She said she had not encountered a marriage license application from same-sex couples since her office began to issue licenses in 2001.
Tweeden, a local gay activist who owned a Fargo gay bar, My Place, in the 1980s, said he did not intend to be confrontational at the courthouse. He anticipated he would leave after being turned away, but he acknowledged he might return, next time maybe to serve notice of a lawsuit.