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Published March 09, 2011, 02:19 PM

Judge Lets Minnesota Gay Marriage Ban Stand

A Hennepin County judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to make gay marriage legal in Minnesota.

By: Associated Press,

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Hennepin County judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to make gay marriage legal in Minnesota.

Judge Mary Dufresne rejected arguments by the group Marry Me Minnesota that the state's 13-year-old Defense of Marriage Act violates same-sex couples' rights to due process, equal protection, religious freedom and freedom of association. She wrote in an order dated Monday that she's bound by a 1971 Minnesota Supreme Court decision that said gay marriage was prohibited under Minnesota statutes.

Doug Benson, executive director of Marry Me Minnesota, told The Star Tribune that his group is disappointed and will appeal.

"When we started this effort, we didn't know what the judges would do when they got the case in front of them, and now we know," Benson said. He also said the ruling gives "the back of the hand to thousands of gay and lesbian couples across the state who only want the same rights their neighbors have."

Chuck Darrell, spokesman for the Minnesota Family Council, applauded the decision. His tried unsuccessfully to intervene in the lawsuit. He said the case, coupled with bills introduced in the Legislature to legalize same-sex marriage, show the need for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Dufresne's ruling largely cited Baker vs. Nelson, a 1971 Minnesota Supreme Court decision that said limiting marriage to men and women did not violate state law or the U.S. Constitution. That case stemmed from an attempt by two male University of Minnesota students to get a marriage license.

"This, of course, is binding precedent on this Court, and this Court is not free to ignore it." Dufresne wrote.

Some of Minnesota's leading gay activist groups and leaders opposed the lawsuit for fear that it would further cement the precedent.

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