In defending Nevada's ban on gay
marriage, the administration of Governor Brian Sandoval, a
Republican, argues that the ban is rooted in history and “not based
on policy whimsy.”
In 2012, U.S. District Judge Robert
Jones upheld the state's ban, writing that the U.S. Constitution's
guarantee of equal protection does not prohibit “the People of the
State of Nevada from maintaining statutes that reserve the
institution of civil marriage to one-man – one-woman
Lambda Legal, which is representing the
case's 8 plaintiff couples, appealed the ruling to the Ninth U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, arguing that Nevada's ban
violates the constitutional rights of gay couples.
In its brief, filed Tuesday, the state
“Nevada law that defines marriage to
be between a man and a woman is legitimate, whether measured under
equal protection or due process standards,” the
brief states. “The interest of the state in defining marriage
in this manner is motivated by the state's desire to protect and
perpetuate traditional marriage.”
“Nevada's statutes evince a strong
encouragement of marriage in its traditional form. These laws are
not based on policy whimsy; they are grounded in policy as deeply
rooted as any that exists in Nevada law. … They define Nevada
Lead plaintiffs in the case are two
women in their 70s who have raised 3 children and have 4
grandchildren. Beverly Sevcik and Mary Baranovich have been together
more than four decades.
In 2002, Nevada voters overwhelmingly
approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a
heterosexual union. Nevada in 2009 began recognizing gay and lesbian
couples with domestic partnerships, which offer far fewer benefits
than marriage and are not recognized by the federal government.
Last year, lawmakers gave initial
approval to repealing the ban and legalizing gay nuptials in Nevada.
A second vote is needed before going to voters in 2016.