The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Soon just two state gay marriage bans will be unchallenged in court

Gay marriage legal status by state, May 13. (Niraj Chokshi)

After five couples filed a lawsuit in Alaska, just three states remain where gay marriages are banned but not being fought in court. And, soon, there will only be two.

Gay marriages are illegal in 33 states, according to counts maintained by marriage advocacy groups. As of late April, bans in only four states were unchallenged, according to Lambda Legal, a pro-gay marriage advocacy group. Alaska on Monday became the 32nd state to have its marriage ban challenged. (Challenges exist in Illinois and Hawaii, but both states now allow gay marriages anyway.) Another is expected any day in South Dakota, leaving just two bans — in neighboring Montana and North Dakota — unassailed in court.

In the Alaska lawsuit, four couples married elsewhere and one unmarried couple are suing the state for not granting legal recognition to gay marriages. Alaska residents voted to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage in 1998. In South Dakota, Jennie Rosenkranz and Nancy Robrahn plan to challenge their state’s ban on similar grounds soon. The two recently wed in Minneapolis.

Judges in several states with bans — most recently Arkansas — have allowed gay couples to wed even as bans continued to be defended.

Read more:

Couple challenging Alaska ban.

List of lawsuits pending, as of April 29 — Lambda Legal

List of lawsuits pending. — Freedom to Marry

Marriage recognition laws. — Human Rights Campaign