Same sex marriage subject of an Attorney General's opinion request

Oct 8, 2013

It may be the first of its kind in North Dakota.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has been asked for a formal opinion involving North Dakota’s marriage and divorce laws.

The request comes from Burleigh County. The County Recorder received a request from someone wanting a marriage license. That individual had been in a same-sex marriage in a state that recognizes those marriages. The parties in that marriage separated – but did NOT divorce. Now, the individual wants a North Dakota marriage license to wed someone of the opposite sex.

The questions for the attorney general: Since North Dakota does NOT recognize same-sex marriages, but North Dakota’s marriage license laws require that someone previously married had to have a formal divorce before being allowed to buy a license, can the recorder issue that license? Also, if the couple is allowed to marry in North Dakota, but then moves to a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, is that bigamy?

Stenehjem has been asked to weigh in on the issue.