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Carson City ends opposition in challenge to Nev. same-sex marriage ban

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Carson City is withdrawing its opposition to a lawsuit challenging Nevada’s ban on same-sex marriage, citing a recent ruling from a federal appeals court.

Last week’s ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in SmithKline Beecham Corp. v. Abbott Laboratories said it is unconstitutional to exclude jurors because of their sexual orientation made Carson’s City’s objections no longer warranted, District Attorney Neil Rombardo said Tuesday.

Cason-City-NV“That SmithKline case was game changer and it changed the analysis in our circuit,” Rombardo said.

Rombardo had filed a brief Jan. 21 on behalf of Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover urging the court to uphold U.S. District Judge Robert Jones’ decision in favor of Nevada’s constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2002 defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Jones upheld state’s prohibition on same-sex marriage in 2012, rejecting arguments raised by eight same-sex couples that the amendment is unconstitutional. The couples, represented by Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, appealed.

The lead plaintiffs in the case, Beverly Sevcik and Mary Baranovich of Carson City, have been together for decades and raised three children.

Seventeen states now allow same-sex marriage and Nevada’s fight comes as federal courts in other state have struck down similar measures, most recently in Utah and Oklahoma.

Rombardo said Carson City’s initial concern was not that gay marriage should be banned, but rather that legal standards could have invited challenges to other state marriage laws, specifically prohibitions against polygamy.

“I did not oppose equal rights marriage,” Rombardo said. “I do oppose polygamy. I do not think they are one and the same.”

But the 9th Circuit’s decision in the SmithKline case essentially said homosexuals are a protected class and that heightened judicial scrutiny applies in cases involving alleged discrimination, Rombardo said.

“Any concern I had regarding the previous analysis was gone,” he said.

The ruling extended to gays and lesbians a civil right that the U.S. Supreme Court has previously promised only women and racial minorities.

State Attorney General Catherine Corte Masto is also reconsidering whether to defend the state in the appeal before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Masto late Friday said the state’s brief filed Jan. 21 defending Nevada’s constitutional prohibition against same sex marriage is likely “no longer tenable.”

Her office is representing Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval in the suit.

The state’s response, written by Solicitor General C. Wayne Howell, said the law serves a “legitimate purpose of preserving traditional marriage” and is motivated by the state’s desire to “protect and perpetuate traditional marriage.”

State lawmakers last year approved a proposed constitutional amendment to repeal Nevada’s same-sex marriage ban. Senate Joint Resolution 13 will have to be approved again by the 2015 Legislature and ratified by voters in 2016 to take effect.

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13 more reader comments:

  1. YES!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 10:39pm
  2. Ok what about Topeka ks ppl what did you for get about us or what shit

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 10:46pm
  3. Messing with the religious right.
    Before God made Eve, there were only Atoms !

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 10:49pm
  4. Wierd how its legal there to get married while drunk to a total stranger whom you’ve known for only a few hours. (las vegas is the city to do it) yet a guy whos been with another guy for lets say a five year strong relationship wants to marry and its totally illegal.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 10:52pm
  5. I used to be opposed to same sex marriages until the morning after the grammies and seeing same sex couples and straight couples being married on live television.
    I’m dirt poor and barely get by every day of my existing time I have left in my life, and I can’t afford a television or satellite services yo watch anything.
    I was on my way to work, and saw the couples married which brought a happy tears moment to me then, changing how I felt about same sex marriage.
    I will go on record to say. I run a Boycott Blacklist Blackbook with all opposing people against gay community rights.
    If anyone of our states pass anti gay bans on marriages, and the rights that protect us from being discriminated against, then those States will be boycotted and blacklisted.
    Until laws and rights for the gay communities gets restored and put into law, then they will stay blacklisted to be boycotted

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 11:03pm
  6. What a smart move

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 11:09pm
  7. Tabitha

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 11:31pm
  8. So prostitution is legal but not same-sex civil marriage?!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 3:37am
  9. Prostitution actually isn't legal. There are a lot of prostitutes, and men who try to use their "services" who go to jail every day for prostitution.

    Replied on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 5:19am
  10. Prostitution is legal in Las Vegas, but same-sex civil marriage is not. So much for "family values."

    Replied on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 2:46pm
  11. It’s about time there are gay people in Nevada and my hometown of Reno

    Posted on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 3:52am
  12. GOOD

    Posted on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 7:35am
  13. Yet Nevada allows prostitution…

    Posted on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 2:03pm