MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- A state appeals court Monday overturned a county district court's dismissal of a lawsuit that sought to eliminate barriers to same-sex marriage in Minnesota.
Judge Renee Worke ruled Hennepin County District Court Judge Mary Dufresne tossed out the lawsuit before appropriately analyzing the equal-protection, due-process and freedom-of-association claims made by the three couples acting as plaintiffs in the cause.
The plaintiffs include Jessica Dykhuis, her partner, Lindzi Campbell and their son, Sean Campbell; Tom Trisko and partner, John Rittman; and Doug Benson, executive director of Marry Me Minnesota, and his partner, Duane Gajewski.
The couples, on behalf of Marry Me Minnesota, sued the Hennepin County Registrar and the State of Minnesota in 2010 after the registrar's office denied their applications for marriage licenses, citing the Minnesota Defense of Marriage Act, the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune reported.
Dufresne dismissed the lawsuit, thereby rejecting the couples' claims, citing a 1971 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling that permitting marriage only to opposite-sex couples does not violate the U.S. Constitution.
Worke wrote Dufresne was correct in dismissing the suit because the state was not an eligible defendant and because it did not violate the couples' religious freedom, but the district judge improperly relied on the 1971 case for her ruling. Worke ruled the couples should be granted an opportunity in district court to prove their rights were violated.
Peter Nickitas, attorney for the plaintiffs, said the appeals court ruling was "a win for marriage equality." Nickitas said the case will be tried again in district court but if it's stalled by another dismissal, it will be appealed again.
"We told the court of appeals what we wanted and they listened," he said.