Template:SSM Same-sex marriage in North Dakota became legal following U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, 2015, which invalidated the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples. Until then the state had restricted marriage to the union of one man and one woman both by statute and in its constitution.

Restrictions on same-sex unionsEdit

North Dakota voters adopted a constitutional amendment in November 2004 that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman and prohibited the recognition of same-sex relationships as well as civil unions and domestic partnerships.[1] Similar restrictions appear in the state statutes as well.[2]

Following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges in June 2015 (see below), a judiciary committee of the North Dakota Legislature began examining the possibility of removing the now invalid statutory and constitutional restrictions on same-sex unions in the state, though the committee is not expected to make recommendations until at least January 2017.[2]


Ramsay v. DalrympleEdit

On June 6, 2014, seven same-sex couples filed a federal lawsuit against North Dakota officials seeking the right to marry and recognition of marriages performed in other jurisdictions. Five of the couples had married in other states and one couple in Canada. The suit, Ramsay v. Dalrymple, was brought by Minneapolis civil rights attorney Joshua A. Newville, who filed a similar lawsuit on behalf of six same-sex couples in South Dakota on May 22, 2014.[3] Briefing was completed by September 5.[4]

Jorgensen v. MontplaisirEdit

Lambda Legal filed a similar lawsuit on June 9, 2014, on behalf of two women, residents of Fargo, who had married in Minnesota.[5]

On January 20, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Ralph R. Erickson stayed proceedings in both cases pending the outcome of U.S. Supreme Court review of several same-sex marriage cases.[4][6]

U.S. Supreme Court decisionEdit

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples is unconstitutional. Governor Jack Dalrymple issued a one-sentence statement that acknowledged the decision and said the state would comply with it.[7]

On June 29, Judge Erickson lifted the stay he had issued in Jorgensen and declared North Dakota's constitutional and statutory restrictions on access to marriage by same-sex couples and the recognition of such marriages from other jurisdictions invalid.[8]

Marriage statisticsEdit

As of November 30, 2015, close to 60 marriage licenses have been issued to same-sex couples in the state. Of North Dakota's 53 counties, 18 have issued at least one marriage license to a same-sex couple.[9]

County Marriages County Marriages County Marriages County Marriages County Marriages
Bowman1Golden Valley0McLean1Richland0Walsh0
Burke1Grand Forks11Mercer1Rolette1Ward10

As of January 5, 2016, approximately 75 marriage licenses had been issued to same-sex couples in North Dakota since the legalisation of same-sex marriage nationwide on June 26, 2015 by the U.S. Supreme Court. This accounts for over 1.5% of the total number of marriage licenses issued in the state in that time.[2]

Public OpinionEdit

In a poll conducted by Forum Communications and the University of North Dakota's College of Business and Public Administration in October 2014, 50% of North Dakota voters opposed the legalization of same-sex marriage and 37% supported it. Some 9% reported they were neutral and 5% had no opinion According to an earlier report by the Williams Institute, support for same-sex marriage had been 23% in 2004 and 40% in 2012.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. CNN: 2004 Ballot Measures, accessed April 10, 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Mike Nowatzki (5 January 2016). ND issues more than 70 same-sex marriage licenses. Forum News Service.
  3. Gunderson, Dan. "Lawsuit challenges ND gay marriage ban", MPRnews, June 6, 2014. Retrieved on October 21, 2014. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Johnson, Chris. "Court halts same-sex marriage lawsuits in North Dakota", Washington Blade, January 20, 2015. Retrieved on June 29, 2015. 
  5. "Second lawsuit filed challenging North Dakota same-sex marriage ban", June 11, 2014. Retrieved on June 29, 2015. 
  6. "Judge puts marriage case on hold pending high court ruling", Washington Times, January 20, 2015. Retrieved on June 29, 2015. 
  7. Hageman, John. "Same-sex couples can get marriage licenses in Grand Forks County; local supporters celebrate", Grand Forks Herald, June 26, 2015. Retrieved on June 29, 2015. 
  8. Order to Lift Motion Granting Stay, Granting Motion for Summary Judgment, and Denying Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. Retrieved on June 29, 2015.
  9. Donovan, Lauren (November 30, 2015). 59 same-sex couples granted marriage licenses in N.D.. Jamestown Sun.
  10. "Poll: N.D. voters still against same-sex marriage", Bismarck Tribune, October 19, 2014. Retrieved on July 6, 2015. 

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