On Thursday, Chief Judge Robert C. Jones, of the U.S. District Court in Nevada, said the state can limit marriage to opposite-sex couples.
In its suit, Lamba Legal charged that Nevada’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, and relegates same-sex couples “to only a second-class status.”
Jones, a George W. Bush appointee who is Mormon, ruled that the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws 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 relationships.”
“Homosexual persons may marry in Nevada, but like heterosexual persons, they may not marry members of the same sex. That is, a homosexual man may marry anyone a heterosexual man may marry, and a homosexual woman may marry anyone a heterosexual woman may marry,” he wrote.
Jones also warned that marriage rights for LGBT people could lead to “an increased percentage of out-of-wedlock children, and single-parent families … or other unforeseen consequences,” and that “maintenance of the traditional institution of civil marriage as between one man and one woman” is necessary because heterosexual couples could produce children.
“The perpetuation of the human race depends upon traditional procreation between men and women. The institution developed in our society, its predecessor societies, and by nearly all societies on Earth throughout history to solidify, standardize, and legalize the relationship between a man, a woman, and their offspring, is civil marriage between one man and one woman,” Jones said, in his ruling.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs signaled that the case will likely be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court.
“This is not the end of this fight,” said a spokesperson for Lambda Legal. “We will appeal and continue to fight for these loving couples, who are harmed by Nevada’s law barring marriage for same-sex couples.”
“We are confident this ruling will be overturned on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals,” said Lamda Legal, in a statement.
The ruling in Nevada comes just hours before the U.S. Supreme Court is due to consider whether it will hear any of several cases addressing marriage equality, including the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and a federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8.
The Nevada ruling is here.