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A federal judge on Monday struck down a South Dakota law defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman, making it the 32nd state to have a constitutional or statutory ban on same-sex “marriage” overturned by a judge.

“[Homosexual couples] have a fundamental right to marry,” wrote Judge Karen Schreier, a Clinton appointee, in a 28-page ruling. “South Dakota law deprives them of that right solely because they are same-sex couples and without sufficient justification.”

South Dakota officials vowed to appeal the ruling. 

“It remains the state's position that the institution of marriage should be defined by the voters of South Dakota and not the federal courts,” South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said in a statement.

Schreier stayed enforcement of the ruling pending the state’s appeal to the 8th Circuit, which has not weighed in on the issue of same-sex “marriage” since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 2013.  That decision opened the floodgates for the current tsunami of lawsuits aimed at legalizing gay “marriage,” which has resulted in four federal appeals courts declaring same-sex “marriage” bans unconstitutional. 

So far, just one federal appeals court has upheld the right of states to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.  It is possible the 8th Circuit will do the same – the court ruled in favor of South Dakota’s marriage protection law as recently as 2006, and is one of the most conservative-leaning appeals courts in the nation.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court is expected to step in and settle the dispute between the various Circuit Courts once and for all, but they have not yet agreed to hear arguments in any specific case.  On Monday, they declined to hear early arguments concerning Louisiana’s same-sex “marriage” ban.  The Court is still actively considering whether to hear arguments in four other cases.

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