BISMARCK, N.D. - North Dakota’s congressional delegation was quick to weigh in on Wednesday’s pair of U.S. Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage.
The delegation was split along party lines. Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp praised the decisions while Rep. Kevin Cramer and Sen. John Hoeven, both Republicans, each expressed disappointment by the rulings.
By a slim 5-4 majority decision, the Supreme Court ruled that gay couples wed in states where gay marriage is legal are eligible to receive federal benefits.
In another 5-4 decision, the court refused to rule on a case involving gay marriage in California.
The justices ruled that the case involving California’s gay marriage ban, Proposition 8, was improperly before them. They rejected the case, effectively making the nation’s largest state the 13th to recognize such unions.
“As the tide continues to shift across the country, these decisions not only reflect the changing mood of the country, they also were based on sound legal reasoning,” Heitkamp said in a statement.
Heitkamp announced her support for gay marriage in April. Prior to her announcement, she’d been in favor of letting the issue be decided by states.
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“Discrimination is discrimination,” Heitkamp said. “Our government has no business treating the relationships of same-sex couples any different than it treats the relationship I have with my husband.”
Cramer issued a statement detailing his disappointment in the high court’s rulings.
“In two unfortunate decisions, the Supreme Court has ruled against the framework of the Defense of Marriage Act, and imposed its own judgment by stripping the people of California of the ability to defend their own vote on marriage,” Cramer said.
Cramer has stated before that he supports the results of North Dakota’s 2004 vote on a ballot measure defining marriage as between a man and woman. More than 73 percent of voters were in favor of defining marriage in North Dakota in 2004.
“This does not end the national discussion on the issue,” Cramer said.
Cramer said he would review the court’s decisions in the coming days to learn what the potential implications are for North Dakota.
Hoeven was the last member of the delegation to speak on Wednesday’s decisions, having been in hearings until late afternoon.
He disagreed with the court’s ruling.
“I continue to support and believe that marriage is a unique institution, a union between a man and a woman,” Hoeven said. “While it doesn’t directly affect North Dakota, I’m concerned about today’s decision by the Supreme Court because it weakened the Defense of Marriage Act.”
Reach Nick Smith at 250-8255 or 223-8482 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.