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ACLU challenges Montana same-sex marriage ban

[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union of Montana [advocacy website] filed a complaint [text, PDF] on Thursday reviving a challenge to the state's same-sex marriage ban that was dismissed [ACLU backgrounder] in December 2012. In contrast to previous cases, this complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief specifically targets the 2004 state constitutional amendment [text] that bans same-sex marriage, whereas other cases targeted multiple statutes. A 2010 filing requested that the legislature redress individual statutes violating the Equal Protection clause and was dismissed for being overly broad. However, this case specifically address the constitutionality of definition of marriage by challenging the effect of the ban on the personal lives of the plaintiffs, specifically regarding the deprivation of Family Medical Leave Act [DOL backgrounder] benefits among others. Montana and North Dakota were the last two states without a challenge to their same-sex marriage bans up until Thursday.

The heated debate over same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most polarizing issues currently facing the American legal community. Earlier this week judges in Oregon and Pennsylvania [JURIST reports] struck down same-sex marriage bans. Earlier this month an Oregon federal judge rejected an attempt [JURIST report] by the National Organization for Marriage [advocacy website] to intervene in litigation to defend the state's same-sex marriage ban. Litigation is currently ongoing in numerous state and federal courts, including Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana and Georgia [JURIST reports], among others.

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