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Federal appeals court to fast track challenge to Nevada gay marriage ban

Wednesday, February 12, 2014
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CARSON CITY, Nev. — A federal appeals court has granted Nevada’s motion to withdraw its support for a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage and agreed to expedite the case.

NevadaIn 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 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also says it will consider the case as soon as possible.

“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.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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