News (USA)

Nevada gay marriage opponents ask for full 9th Circuit Court hearing

LAS VEGAS — A group that couldn’t convince three federal appeals judges that Nevada’s state law banning same-sex marriage was constitutional is asking the entire 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to hear its case.

The James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse in San Francisco, home of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse in San Francisco, home of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Ernest McGray, Jr.

In documents calling the issue “a question of historic importance,” the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage claimed bias by a three-judge panel of the court that last week struck down a 2002 Nevada constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage.

The coalition said a review before the full court is necessary because judges Stephen Reinhardt, Marsha Berzon and Ronald Gould were assigned to the case.

The group says Reinhardt and Berzon weren’t randomly appointed to gay marriage cases from Nevada, Idaho and Hawaii and are “favorably disposed to arguments for expanding the rights of gay men and lesbians.”

The appeals court was closed for the Columbus Day holiday, and a spokesman also didn’t immediately respond to messages.

Tara Borelli, the Lamba Legal attorney who won the Nevada appeal on behalf of eight same-sex couples, called the allegation of improper judicial selection “unfounded, desperate and sad.”

Borelli said arguments similar to those the coalition is making have been rejected by federal appeals courts elsewhere, and the coalition lacks standing to seek further review of the Nevada case.

“It’s clear that there is no further controversy to resolve,” Borelli said.

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The 9th Circuit panel ruled Oct. 7 that same-sex wedding bans in Nevada and Idaho violated federal equal protection rights of gay couples. The court also issued an order making the ruling to effective immediately.

But same-sex couples in Nevada remained in limbo during a confusing series of on-again, off-again moves before the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage on Thursday withdrew its request for a court order to block the ruling.

County clerks in Nevada began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Friday.

By Monday afternoon, more than 140 same-sex couples had obtained marriage licenses at the busy county clerk bureau in Las Vegas.

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