South Dakota law unaffected by Supreme Court decision - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

South Dakota law unaffected by Supreme Court decision on gay marriage

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Advocates of same-sex marriage are claiming two huge victories today.

Following two landmark rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, same-sex marriage will be allowed to marry again in California, and same-sex couples in all states can now receive federal benefits.

The democratic leader in the house, Nancy Pelosi, hailed the high court's decision.

"Equal justice under the law. Those are the words inscribed on the wall of the Supreme Court, which by the way I can see from my office. This is the value and the ideal upheld by the Supreme Court today," Pelosi said.

Critics point out that today's rulings do not have a broad impact on the country as a whole, only those states that have legalized same-sex marriage are affected.  The 35 states where those unions are illegal will see no change, that includes South Dakota.

So along with all of the excitement for gay couples, many have questions, particularly, what do these decisions really mean?

KSFY News met a lesbian couple who live here in Sioux Falls. But to get married, they went to Sioux City, Iowa.

So they're wondering what does the Supreme Court's decision Wednesday, mean for couples who live in a state such as South Dakota, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Tarah and Kelsey Cook say the Supreme Court decision to recognize their marriage is an important step in the right direction.

"Kelsey couldn't be on my health benefits because she's still going to school and she wasn't able to get my health benefits.  Hopefully we'll get there.  And by the time we have kids, hopefully we don't have to do five million different paperworks just to make sure that she has the same rights to our children that I do," Tarah Cook said.

But SDSU political science professor Julie Lane tells us there are still some things which remain undecided.

"What's unanswered now is that if I were to marry a woman in the state of Iowa, and move to South Dakota am I still married or not. And so that's another potential constitutional controversy that's as yet unanswered, Lane said.

"It's still the state of South Dakota that doesn't so we still have some steps to go before we're a hundred percent there but it's knowing that it's going that way that makes us feel better," Tarah Cook said.

And in a statement, here's what South Dakota attorney general Marty Jackely said about the ruling 'after today's U.S. Supreme Court decisions, South Dakota constitution and legislative enactments defining marriage to be between an man and a woman remain in effect as a matter of law.'

Tarah and Kelsey hope the court's decision will give their family, what everyone else wants for theirs.

"To make health care decisions and to be there when we're giving birth and all those things that families get to do together. means a lot to us as a couple but as we start building our family," Tarah Cook said.

"We think it will mean a whole lot more," Kelsey Cook said.

It was a little more than five years ago when South Dakota voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman.

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