ACLU Aims for Same-Sex Rights in MT Constitution - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

ACLU Aims for Same-Sex Rights in MT Constitution

Posted: Updated:
MISSOULA -

Same-sex couples in Montana won't receive the benefits of today's landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, but civil liberties officials in the state say the court ruling will open new doors for gay rights in Montana.

Officials at the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana said Justice Anthony Kennedy's swing vote in today's decision serves as a warning to supporters of laws like the Defense of Marriage Act.

Same sex couples in Montana still do not have the legal right to wed, but officials say today's decision -- and an important same-sex lawsuit -- are moving the state towards marriage equality.

Legal Director of the ACLU of Montana, Jon Ellingson, says he was delighted by the Supreme Court's landmark decision.

"It's a great day for all of us who believe that an individual has a fundamental liberty to choose the intimate partner of their choice," Ellingson said.

However, Ellingson said he recognizes Montana has a ways to go, as one of 36 states that still ban same-sex marriage.

He added, more than 200 Montana state statutes grant federal tax, health and other benefits rights to married couples.

"And under our constitution, that can only be different-sex couples," Ellingson explained.

Ellingson said the ACLU will soon file an amended complaint in the "Donaldson and Guggenheim v. State of Montana" lawsuit, representing six same-sex couples seeking the right to visit a loved one in the hospital, plan a funeral, and other basic legal liberties.

Ideally, he said the Montana Supreme Court would rule it unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples legal protections, and eventually, the right to get married.

Ellingson said, "I think the day is going to come when a court will look at that prohibition and conclude that too, is an unconstitutional degradation of a fundamental human liberty."

"I was really thrilled this morning when I heard the news, but also, it just kind of touched me with a little bit of sadness because I realized I was living in a state that doesn't recognize marriage equality," said Brittany Salley-Rains, a member of the gay community in Montana.

Salley-Rains said she hopes more change will follow the supreme court's decision -- especially within the Montana constitution.

She said, "I don't want to have to leave Montana to get married, you know, if I do get married I want to be able… I want it to be here."

"It is hard to imagine something that is more essential than the ability to fall in love with the person we fall in love with, and choose to make our life with that person," Ellingson said.

To learn about Montana campaigns seeking equal legal rights for same-sex couples, click here.

  • Most Popular

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • SO GOOD: Montana Tech's Xavier Marsden

    SO GOOD: Montana Tech's Xavier Marsden

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 8:26 PM EDT2014-04-17 00:26:24 GMT
    Sophomore cornerback Xavier Marsden is from La Mirada California, right outside Los Angeles. The city boy says he loves being in Butte. "It's been good. Coming from a big city to a small town definitely
    Sophomore cornerback Xavier Marsden is from La Mirada California, right outside Los Angeles. The city boy says he loves being in Butte.
  • Former Griz Football Player Battles Cancer

    Former Griz Football Player Battles Cancer

    Tuesday, April 8 2014 7:00 PM EDT2014-04-08 23:00:04 GMT
    A former Griz football player prepares to take on different kind of physical challenge, after learning he has cancer. Former linebacker Cole Lockwood got his diagnosis just last week and is now recovering
    A former Griz football player prepares to take on different kind of physical challenge, after learning he has cancer.
  • Griz Lax Gaining Popularity

    Griz Lax Gaining Popularity

    Thursday, April 17 2014 12:41 AM EDT2014-04-17 04:41:14 GMT
    The Montana Lacrosse team is preparing for their last three games of the regular season.  They're currently 6-6 and with all three games at home in Washington Grizzly Stadium, they're hoping the playoffs
    The Montana Lacrosse team is preparing for their last three games of the regular season.  They're currently 6-6 and with all three games at home in Washington Grizzly Stadium, they're hoping the playoffs are on the horizon.
  • Fatal Crash on Frontage Road in Bozeman

    Fatal Crash on Frontage Road in Bozeman

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 5:27 PM EDT2014-04-16 21:27:10 GMT
    One person is dead, following a crash on Frontage Road in Bozeman on Wednesday afternoon. The crash happened shortly after 2 p.m. at the intersection of Frontage Road and Valley Center Road. ABC Fox Montana
    One person is dead, following a crash on Frontage Road in Bozeman on Wednesday afternoon. The crash happened shortly after 2 p.m. at the intersection of Frontage Road and Valley Center Road. ABC Fox Montana
  • LOOK: Photos Of 'Blood Moon' During Total Lunar Eclipse

    LOOK: Photos Of 'Blood Moon' During Total Lunar Eclipse

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 7:59 PM EDT2014-04-15 23:59:30 GMT
    KHQ.COM - It was a sight to behold! The blood moon lit up the heavens last night. If you slept thru it, no need to worry! We recorded the whole thing for you and many of our Facebook friends and viewers have shared the photos that they captured of the total lunar eclipse last night!
    KHQ.COM - It was a sight to behold! The blood moon lit up the heavens last night. If you slept thru it, no need to worry! We recorded the whole thing for you and many of our Facebook friends and viewers have shared the photos that they captured of the total lunar eclipse last night!
  • Frontage Road Crash Victim Identified

    Frontage Road Crash Victim Identified

    Thursday, April 17 2014 1:37 PM EDT2014-04-17 17:37:02 GMT
    The Gallatin County coroner says 30-year-old Kari Friedman from Bozeman died in a crash at the intersection of Frontage and Valley Center Roads Wednesday. The Montana Highway Patrol said Friedman was turning
    The Gallatin County coroner says 30-year-old Kari Friedman from Bozeman died in a crash at the intersection of Frontage and Valley Center Roads Wednesday.
  • People Stay Despite Contamination, City Looks To Expand Services

    People Stay Despite Contamination, City Looks To Expand Services

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 8:22 PM EDT2014-04-17 00:22:48 GMT
    Some people's worry about the contamination coming from the defunct aluminum plant in Columbia Falls has caused them to pack up and leave town, but city officials say overall the population is holding
    Some people's worry about the contamination coming from the defunct aluminum plant in Columbia Falls has caused them to pack up and leave town, but city officials say overall the population is holding steady.
  • Brewers Fight Back Against FDA's Proposed Animal Feed Regulation

    Brewers Fight Back Against FDA's Proposed Animal Feed Regulation

    Thursday, April 17 2014 11:32 AM EDT2014-04-17 15:32:17 GMT
    A battle brews between beer makers and the Food and Drug Administration. Breweries across the nation, including some here in Montana, have donated their grains to ranchers for cattle and pig feed
    A battle brews between beer makers and the Food and Drug Administration.
Powered by WorldNow

Features

  • More Features
  • Powered by WorldNow
    All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and Cowles Montana Media. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.