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Court of Appeals Sends Marriage Equality Case Back to District Court

Phil Duran, Legal Director | January 23, 2012

Today the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that the plaintiffs in Minnesota's marriage equality case, called Benson v. Alverson, were improperly denied their day in court to present their arguments as to the most substantive aspects of their case. Mainly, the Court held that Judge Mary Steenson DuFresne was wrong in relying as heavily as she did on the Minnesota Supreme Court's 1971 Baker v. Nelson decision, interpreting the U.S. Constitution in a similar context. The Court sent the bulk of their case back to Hennepin County District Court to afford them that opportunity, and directed the district court to focus specifically on the Minnesota constitution in making its ruling. The Court's opinion does not comment on the merits of the plaintiffs' claims, which means that the eventual outcome of the litigation remains very uncertain, as is the timeline for a final ruling.

OutFront Minnesota praises the Court of Appeals' attentiveness to the differences between state and federal constitutional analysis, and for its commitment to assuring the plaintiffs get a fair hearing. We congratulate the plaintiffs on successfully securing the opportunity to present their case. It remains difficult to predict the ultimate outcome because, in all likelihood, the final decision will rest with the judicially-conservative Minnesota Supreme Court, possibly years from now. We remain firmly focused on defeating the marriage-discrimination amendment on this fall's ballot, because passage of that amendment would render this lawsuit moot long before it would otherwise conclude.

Read the full opinion at mncourts.gov (PDF).

For more information, contact:
Phil Duran
Legal Director
612.822.0127 x 7663


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