A federal appeals court on Tuesday
struck down gay marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho.
A 3-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit
Court of Appeals in San Francisco said
the bans violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment of the US Constitution because “they deny lesbians and
gays who wish to marry persons of the same sex a right they afford to
individuals who wish to marry persons of the opposite sex.”
It is the first unanimous appellate
court ruling on the issue and the fourth to overturn state bans.
The decision also affects 3 additional
states under the court's jurisdiction: Alaska, Montana and Arizona.
The court said its ruling would take
The bans were defended by Monte Stewart
of the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, who argued that
allowing gay couples access to marriage would weaken fathers'
“commitment to abide by the child's bonding norm.”
Judge Marsha Berzon questioned
You have children with gay parents “who
would be potentially in a stable relationship and would potentially
have the financial and other benefits of marriage. And essentially
your thesis is to deny those children, leave aside the parents for
the moment, those benefits in order to send some vague messages to
other people,” she said.
Nevada is expected to implement the
Earlier this year, Nevada Governor
Brian Sandoval, a Republican, withdrew the state's defense in the
case less than a month after the court ruled it discriminatory to
reject a person from a jury pool based on sexual orientation
According to Tara Borelli, a Lambda
Legal attorney representing the Nevada plaintiffs, Stewart's
Coalition for the Protection of Marriage does not have standing to
request review from the Supreme Court.
Idaho Governor Butch Otter, a
Republican, called the court's decision “disappointing.”
“I will carefully evaluate the
opinion, along with yesterday's surprising decision by the U.S.
Supreme Court, and talk with legislative leaders and the Attorney
General before determining our path forward,” Otter said in a
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to
Marry, applauded the ruling in an emailed statement.
“Today's decision from the Ninth
Circuit brings to 35 the number of freedom to marry states, and 64%
of the American people now live in a state where gay people will soon
share in the freedom to marry. We now have more states that have
ended the exclusion of gay couples from marriage than had ended bans
on interracial marriage when the Supreme Court brought the country to
national resolution in Loving v. Virginia. We hope that the
other federal appellate courts will move swiftly to end the disparity
and unfair denial that too many loving and committed couples in the
15 remaining states endure,” he said.