North Dakota lawmakers push to ‘make it official’ by removing defunct marriage ban

Lawmakers in North Dakota are among the first to attempt to remove a defunct same-sex marriage ban – which was voided by the Supreme Court ruling.

The highest court in the US ruled last June in Obergefell v Hodges that it violates the US constitution to ban same-sex marriage – which invalidated a string of laws and amendments across a vast number of states.

However, just as a dozen states keep defunct sodomy legislation that has been invalid since 2003, marriage bans technically remain on the books in a vast number of states – despite same-sex marriages going ahead.

Lawmakers in North Dakota are the first to try to adapt to the new political reality, by taking aim at a defunct amendment passed by voters in 2004.

In November 2004, 73% of voters in the state approved the law defining 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.

However, a legislative committee in the state is now discussing whether to alter the state’s constitution and statutes to reflect the ruling.

Though the laws are now effectively pointless, state lawmakers may choose to leave them on the books as a protest.

Gail Wischmann of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office urged the committee to recommend that the laws are changed to officially reflect same-sex marriages.

But Republican Kim Koppelman led a push to keep the law, suggesting it should remain on the books as a “public policy statement”.

It’s highly unlikely that the majority of states with defunct bans will remove them, given it would amount to an admission of defeat from Republicans opposed to equality.

Underlining the challenge, in 12 states lawmakers are still yet to remove invalid sodomy laws, after more than a decade.

Anti-sodomy laws remain on the books in Texas, Utah, Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North arolina, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.