In a three-page order, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the motion filed Monday by Attorney General Catherine Corte Masto to withdraw an earlier brief defending Nevada’s constitutional prohibition on gay marriage.
Masto, a Democrat, and Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval agreed that a recent appeals court ruling extending civil rights protections to gays and lesbians made Nevada’s defense of the law no longer tenable.
That ruling in January was issued the same day Nevada filed its initial brief urging the court to uphold the law approved by voters in 2002 that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
“The fact that the government defendants no longer are defending Nevada’s exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage makes any delay in these loving and committed couples securing the relief they seek particularly intolerable,” said Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Tara Borelli, in a statement. “The wheels of justice are now on a much faster track.”
A lawyer for the eight Nevada gay couples involved in the suit says that means oral arguments could be scheduled as early as this spring.