North Dakota Senate Set to Nullify Supreme Court Decision on Same Sex Marriage?

(This article originally appeared on The Minuteman Facebook page on January 10, 2017.)

In June of 2015 the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) made a ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges that requires all states to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Well, hold on to your hats, because the North Dakota Senate may just be making a statement to the federal government tomorrow (January 10th) on the issue.

That statement will be made when the Senate votes on Senate Bill No. 2043. Here is the description of the bill from the legislative web site:

“This bill provides for changes to several references to married couples in the North Dakota Century Code to comply with the United States Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. (2015). The bill draft consists of 33 sections that amend language from either ‘husband or wife’ to ‘two individuals married to each other’ or ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ to ‘spouse.’

In November 2004, voters in North Dakota approved Constitutional Measure 1 to define marriage in North Dakota as being between one man and one woman with 73% of the vote. With the 5-4 SCOTUS ruling, the state constitution and North Dakota Century Code is now at odds with the SCOTUS decision. The purpose of the Senate Bill No. 2043 is to bring the Century Code into harmony with the ruling, even if the North Dakota State Constitution is not.

Following debate in the Senate Judiciary Committee, a vote was taken that resulted in a 4-2 DO NOT PASS recommendation. The only two legislators on the committee that favored the bill was North Dakota Republican Party Chairman Kelly Armstrong and Democrat Carolyn Nelson.

I was contacted by a state senator who told me that he has been “bombarded by emails telling [him] to vote No on the bill and not one single email yet asking [him] to vote Yes.” The bill now goes to the floor tomorrow for debate and a vote.

If the full Senate follows the recommendation of the Judiciary Committee — and seemingly the will of the people — this bill could go down in flames. Doing so will undoubtedly garner some national attention.

A defeat for Senate Bill No. 2043 is essentially an act of nullification. Undoubtedly, many North Dakotans will ask if such a thing is appropriate. In our opinion… yes it is.

The United States Constitution clearly lacks any authority for the federal government to be involved in the marriage issue. Therefore, under the 10th Amendment, the issue of marriage would be left to the states and to the people, and North Dakota spoke loud an clear in 2004 when they rejected same-sex marriage.

Now, if you’ve read The Minuteman long enough, you will know that we support removing the government (at all levels) from the marriage business. Yet, from a constitutional viewpoint, the state is perfectly within it’s authority to define marriage, and that was done in 2004 with Constitutional Measure 1.

With the SCOTUS overstepping it’s bounds, the state has no recourse but to nullify their ruling. And personally, I hope they do it. It is past time that the states stand up to the federal monstrosity and let them know they’re just not going to take it anymore.

If the Senate does defeat the bill, the only question remaining will be whether or not North Dakota will actually obey it’s constitution, the North Dakota Century Code, and cease issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Stay tuned. Things could get interesting tomorrow.


Late last night The Minuteman posted the attached article about the possibility of the North Dakota Senate essentially nullifying the SCOTUS ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states by refusing to change Century Code language to recognize it. Well, they just did it. The Senate voted down SB 2043 by a 31-15 vote.

Does this mean North Dakota will stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses? After all, the state constitution specifically states marriage is between a man and a woman. Time will tell. But for the moment, this is a brave step by the North Dakota Senate. Hopefully they will continue to exert their Tenth Amendment rights.

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About T. Arthur Mason 874 Articles
T. Arthur Mason is a native North Dakotan who has spent nearly all of his life in the Peace Garden State. As the third of four children in Western North Dakota, Mason grew to appreciate family and the outdoors. Some of his fondest memories are annual deer hunts with family and friends. In his early teenage years, faith became a central part of T. Arthur Mason's life. He and the majority of his family attend church together on a weekly basis and find this a fulfilling aspect of their lives. Through the influence of his father, T. Arthur Mason became intrigued with politics. As a boy, he attended political events with his father and enjoyed the friendships that resulted as a byproduct of those political associations. As Mason grew older, he became convinced that the quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson was true, "That government is best which governs least." Today, T. Arthur Mason enjoys time with his wife and children, an occasional hunt, and an increasingly active life on the political scene. This blog is the fulfillment of a dream to design a web site in the realm of politics and to advocate for the principles of Liberty and constitutionally limited government. On behalf of all those that contribute to The Minuteman, we hope you enjoy your time on the site and will share the message with others.