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May 2014: Joshua Newville Files Historic Lawsuit Challenging South Dakota Marriage Equality Ban

On May 22, 2014, on behalf of twelve South Dakota residents, Attorney Joshua Newville filed a federal lawsuit in United States District Court in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of South Dakota’s statutory and constitutional bans on marriage equality. 

drop in water puddle that is reflecting pride flag

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Plaintiffs Jennie and Nancy Rosenbrahn, Jeremy Coller and Clay Schweitzer, Lynn and Monica Serling-Swank, Krystal Cosby and Kaitlynn Hoerner, Barbara and Ashley Wright, and Greg Kniffen and Mark Church. Defendants include Governor Dennis Daugaard, Attorney General Marty Jackley, Secretary of Health Doneen Hollingsworth, Secretary of Public Safety Trevor Jones, Pennington County Register of Deeds Donna Mayer, and Brown County Register of Deeds Carol Sherman. United States District Court Judge Karen Schreier is overseeing the matter in the Southern Division of the District of South Dakota. The Court file number is 14-4081.  The allegations contained in the Complaint are below:


During the infancy of the United States, John Adams, James Madison, Alexis de Tocqueville, and others, warned of “tyranny of the majority.” Concerned that a direct democracy would allow a simple majority to stampede the rights and dignity of minorities, our nation’s founders created a constitutional representative democracy, establishing a system of government with several super-majoritarian checks on simple majorities and myriad institutional checks and balances pursuant and subordinate to the Constitutio