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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 14 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 11
Ninth Circuit delays Nevada marriage case
Section One
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Ninth Circuit delays Nevada marriage case

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Just hours after it scheduled hearings in a challenge to Nevada's ban on same-sex marriages, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals postponed oral arguments in the case. No new date was set for the hearing.

Court officials said the oral arguments had to be postponed because they could not assemble a panel of judges to hear the case by the original April 9 hearing date.

U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled on November 29 that 'the maintenance of the traditional institution of civil marriage as between one man and one woman is a legitimate state interest' and, therefore, Nevada's law was constitutional. It is the only federal court ruling to date upholding a ban on same-sex marriages.

Lambda Legal, representing eight Gay and Lesbian couples, appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto initially filed a brief defending her state's law, but withdrew it on February 10 after the Ninth Circuit ruled in an unrelated case that charges of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation must be analyzed with 'heightened scrutiny.'

On that basis, Masto said, 'it has become clear that this case is no longer defensible in court.'

To meet the heightened scrutiny test, the law must not only advance a legitimate state interest - as Jones ruled that it did - but 'the intrusion must significantly further that interest, and the intrusion must be necessary to further that interest,' as the Ninth Circuit wrote in Witt v. Department of the Air Force.

Masto's withdrawal from the case leaves the anti-Gay group Coalition for the Protection of Marriage as the sole defendant.

Mel Goodwin with the Gay and Lesbian Community Center in Las Vegas told Associated Press that he knows some of the couples involved in the lawsuit.

'The couples who are part of the lawsuit have been in loving, caring relationships and want the same legal rights as other couples in Nevada,' Goodwin said.

'I sincerely hope that the court rules in favor of the couples because all Nevadans should have the same legal access, same legal rights and representation under the law, and I'm sure all the couples will go and get married because they're fighting for the right to love each other,' Goodwin continued.

Nevada's constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage was passed by voters in 2002.

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