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Nevada: State’s same-sex marriage ban serves a ‘legitimate purpose’

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

CARSON CITY, Nev. — The state of Nevada on Tuesday urged a federal appeals court to uphold the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, arguing it serves the “legitimate purpose of preserving traditional marriage” and is entrenched in the state’s history.

NevadaThe brief filed by the attorney general’s office late Tuesday in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals comes as federal courts have struck down similar laws in other states. Gay couples in the case argue that Nevada’s ban is unconstitutional and that a law allowing domestic partnerships made same-sex couples second-class citizens.

Gov. Brian Sandoval was named as a plaintiff in the case because the suit challenges existing state law. But the first-term Republican, in a statement to The Associated Press, said it will be up to voters and the courts to decide the outcome.

“My personal belief is that marriage is between a man and woman,” Sandoval, a former federal judge, said in an email. “But as governor, I believe the people of Nevada should have the freedom to decide should this issue come before them for a vote.”

“The courts will now make the decision and I will respect the decision of the court,” he said.

The state’s brief argued that the Nevada law defining marriage as between a man and woman “is legitimate, whether measured under equal protection or due process standards.”

“The interest of the state in defining marriage in this manner is motivated by the state’s desire to protect and perpetuate traditional marriage,” wrote Solicitor General C. Wayne Howle, who also argued that Nevada’s marriage laws are rooted in history predating statehood.

“Even before statehood, the 1861 territorial laws defined marriage as existing between ‘a male and a female,’” the document said. “The same limitation on marriage was codified in 1867 … and is substantially the same today.”

He added, “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 society.”

A federal judge upheld the state’s prohibition on same-sex marriage in 2012. U.S District Judge Robert Jones rejected arguments raised by eight same-sex couples that an amendment passed by voters in 2002 defining marriage as between a man and a woman is unconstitutional.

On Tuesday, the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, the group that successfully pushed the amendment, said in its appellate brief that the traditional definition of marriage furthers Nevada’s interest in “maximizing the number of children who are raised by their own biological parents.”

Nevada’s fight over gay marriage comes as federal courts in other states have struck down similar measures, most recently in Utah and Oklahoma.

There are 17 states that allow gay marriage.

More than a dozen groups have filed briefs in the case that was filed by Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.

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

Nevada legislators in 2009 passed a law establishing domestic partnerships for any cohabitating couple, gay or straight. The law was cited in the state’s appellate brief as a mechanism by which the state provides “legal recognition” of such relationships.

But gay rights advocates argue domestic partnerships deny them the benefits of marriage afforded to heterosexual couples, an argument they say was bolstered when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last year.

A bill repealing Nevada’s constitutional ban on gay marriage was approved by the 2013 Legislature. If approved again in 2015 – an outcome largely dependent on whether Republicans or Democrats control the state Senate – it would go to voters in 2016 for ratification.

Some of Nevada’s largest employers and business leaders support repealing the law, saying it would promote job growth, tourism and equality.

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58 more reader comments:

  1. You’re next Nevada :)

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:07pm
  2. umm traditions change, bitches!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:08pm
  3. Yes, because NOTHING has evolved or changed since 1867….

    Sheesh…

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:08pm
  4. Hey Nevada grow up you let straight drunks ass strangers get married but you won’t let gay people get married that is so wrong

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:08pm
  5. Go back to what you do best. Stay out of the same sex marriage arguments

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:08pm
  6. Lawsuits please?

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:10pm
  7. Wait, Nevada? As in the Nevada that has Las Vegas in it? Las Vegas being the place that will marry any two people with pocket change and a hula hoop for a ring? They’re getting desperate now.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:11pm
  8. It’s not 1867 anymore!!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:11pm
  9. LMAO – It’s pure bigotry.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:11pm
  10. o god isnt that where the westbro church is? omg i cant wait yes nevada move them out of america!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:11pm
  11. No, thankfully that's not here. They're in KS.

    Replied on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:16pm
  12. What do you mean thankfully? I live in Kansas... lol

    Replied on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:25pm
  13. Oops! Sorry, LOL.

    Replied on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:39pm
  14. Are you kidding me? Out of ALL 50 states, Nevada wants to preach traditional marriage…lol. That is laugh out loud funny. Yes, we must uphold the Elvis impersonators in order to marry drunk men and women that may wander in off the street. Give me a fucking break!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:11pm
  15. Circular logic at its best: Nevada’s law to protect “traditional marriage” is based on Nevada’s laws to protect “traditional marriage”.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:12pm
  16. It’s OK to be a hooker tho

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:12pm
  17. I was waiting for someone to mention this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_in_Nevada Here you go

    Replied on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:14pm
  18. The brothels are selling women to mostly married men I'll bet.

    Replied on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:44pm
  19. “The interest of the state in defining marriage in this manner is motivated by the state’s desire to protect and perpetuate traditional marriage.”…. nothing says traditional marriage more than being married by Elvis in a drive thru chapel.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:12pm
  20. Thats the same argument thats going on here in Indiana; they have NO argument

    Replied on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:22pm
  21. Coming from a state that you can know someone for 1 second or b cousins and get married. What a joke….come on heteros….GET OVER IT!!!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:12pm
  22. Nevada the home of legal prostitution and drive thru wedding chapels, but gay marriage will totally ruin “traditional” marital values…hmmm?

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:13pm
  23. Well, I guess as long as you are a married man looking for women for sex in these brothels it's OK. ;)

    Replied on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:48pm
  24. hypocrisy

    Replied on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:52pm
  25. I’m ashamed of being from Nevada.. Just know those idiots don’t speak for all of us.. Ugh!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:13pm
  26. People…..PLEASE educate yourselves and read this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_in_Nevada Stupid comments from smart people make me sad

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:15pm
  27. It is just a matter of time before the federal courts determine that these marriage laws are unconstitutional and marriage equality is the future.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:15pm
  28. GLBT people should boycott nevada…that should hit ‘em where it hurts!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:15pm
  29. This from a State with Legalized Prostitution!?

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:17pm
  30. Oh please…Native tribes married gay people in the Americas for thousands of years, but you don’t care about their “traditions,” do you?

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:18pm
  31. traditional marriage must mean a lot in a state that still has legal brothels

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:18pm
  32. ASSHOLES!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:20pm
  33. Hopefully same sex marriage will be legal nationwide not just in Las Vegas. I am from
    England and it is already ok here.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:21pm
  34. Can’t marry someone you love, but it’s perfectly legal to be a paid whore.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:21pm
  35. Wow!!! If traditional marriage includes going to a whore house and bringing home and std to your spouse then I want nothing to do with it.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:21pm
  36. “The governor in the brief filed by Solicitor General C. Wayne How le also argued that Nevada’s marriage laws are rooted in history that predates statehood.

    “Even before statehood, the 1861 territorial laws defined marriage as existing between ‘a male and a female,’” the document said. “The same limitation on marriage was codified in 1867 … and is substantially the same today.” SO WHAT? Things were soooo great in 1861??? What has it to do with today? “We’ve made some mistakes in the past, that justifies us to make more mistakes” ?? What about human rights?

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:23pm
  37. Rich coming from the land of gambling and legal prostitution.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:25pm
  38. By all means, the state that advertises “Drive Through Elvis Wedding Chapels” should be concerned about “protecting” traditional marriage. http://www.chapelsoflasvegas.com/elvis-pink-cadillac-drive-thru-weddings.html

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:28pm
  39. Protecting traditional marriage at the drive through wedding chapel officiated by the society of Elvis impersonators??

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:30pm
  40. Oh, that will hold up in a court of law!!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:30pm
  41. No, it doesn’t serve any legitimate purpose!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:31pm
  42. Pretty weak. Nevada should stop wasting time.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:32pm
  43. Can’t wait for this to be laughed out of court…

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:32pm
  44. Protect and perpetuate “traditional marriage”. What a load of cow manure! Before the 20th century, marriages were arranged affairs by the heads of royal houses for political gain, and even marriages among the peasantry was for acquiring adjoining land from a neighbor so as to increase property ownership. Marriage has undergone many changes over the centuries and it was the Catholic church who decided that they were the ones who would rule over it and “sanctify” the rite.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:33pm
  45. If this is all the state has, then it has lost going in.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:34pm
  46. Those of us who are LGBT here in Las Vegas are definitely frustrated, trust me. It makes me mad that I can only have “Domestic Partnership” with my wife, yet some friends I’ve known growing up have married 2 or 3 times like it’s nothing. Unfortunately Northern Nevada county areas are still very conservative.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:37pm
  47. BULLSHIT! Drive through weddings, quickie divorces, and prostitution upholds traditional marriage? Yeah, right?

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:39pm
  48. But prostitution is legal – I didn’t realize this is part of traditional marriage.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:44pm
  49. Anyone else’s first thought go to Britney and Kim Kardashian?

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:44pm
  50. It’s a family tradition

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:45pm
  51. But it’s ok to sell women in the brothels, and who are most of the John’s? Married men I bet.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:46pm
  52. Nevada the home of legal prostitution and drive thru wedding chapels, but gay marriage will totally ruin “traditional” marital values…this will be laughed out of court.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:47pm
  53. Sin City is in Nevada, an we’re supposed to believe this BS!?!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:48pm
  54. Lyn thanks for reposting my comment :-D

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 9:52pm
  55. WOW! a bunch of BS if u ask me! its not the 1800′s!! let us love n be with who ever we choose!!! dont trip Nevada u will b next!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 10:03pm
  56. Distracts from the brothels?

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 10:04pm
  57. Exactly how does same sex marriage undermine heterosexual marriage? Heterosexuals can still get married whether same sex marriage is legal or not. And, given the high rate of divorce, how does keeping marriage heterosexual in any way guarantee that children will be raised by their birth parent couple? And, does the state of Nevada truly hold that children who are raised by other than both of their birth parents are less loved, less cared for, less well off? Really?

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 10:05pm
  58. sorry bigotry is not a legitimate purpose!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 10:06pm