John M. Becker

BREAKING: 9th Circuit Strikes Down NV, ID Marriage Bans

Filed By John M. Becker | October 07, 2014 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: gay marriage, Idaho, marriage equality, Nevada, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, same-sex marriage

scales_justice.jpgThe Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has just unanimously struck down bans on same-gender marriage in Idaho and Nevada, the Associated Press reports:

A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down gay marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that gay couples' equal protection rights were violated by the bans.

The three-judge panel did not decide on a similar case in Hawaii, which legalized gay marriage in December. Hawaii's governor had asked the court to toss out a lawsuit challenging the state's ban and an appeal to the 9th Circuit filed before Hawaii lawmakers legalized same-sex marriages.

State and federal court judges have been striking down bans at a rapid rate since a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year. The 9th Circuit ruling comes a day after the Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage in 11 more states, for a total of 30, when it rejected a set of appeals.

The court applied the heightened scrutiny standard of review, consistent with the precedent established by an earlier ruling in SmithKline Beecham v. Abbott Labs. Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote:

"We hold that the Idaho and Nevada laws at issue violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because they deny lesbians and gays who wish to marry persons of the same sex a right they afford to individuals who wish to marry persons of the opposite sex, and do not satisfy the heightened scrutiny standard we adopted in SmithKline."

More from the decision:

"To allow same-sex couples to adopt children and then to label their families as second-class because the adoptive parents are of the same sex is cruel as well as unconstitutional. Classifying some families, and especially their children, as of lesser value should be repugnant to all those in this nation who profess to believe in 'family values.'"

And then there's this gem:

[Idaho Republican Gov. Butch Otter] also states, in conclusory fashion, that allowing same-sex marriage will lead opposite-sex couples to abuse alcohol and drugs, engage in extramarital affairs, take on demanding work schedules, and participate in time-consuming hobbies. We seriously doubt that allowing committed same-sex couples to settle down in legally recognized marriages will drive opposite-sex couples to sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll.

The ruling today was somewhat expected, because the Ninth Circuit is widely regarded as the most progressive of all the U.S. circuit courts of appeals. It also struck down California's marriage discrimination amendment, Proposition 8, in February 2012.

But while it's not surprising, it's incredibly important nonetheless. And it also means that exclusionary marriage laws in the other non-equal marriage states in the Circuit -- Alaska, Arizona, and Montana -- aren't likely to survive much longer.

The walls of marriage discrimination keep tumbling down. What an incredible week this has been for marriage equality -- and it's only Tuesday!

A copy of today's decision is after the break, via Equality Case Files.

9th Circuit Opinion by Equality Case Files


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