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 Freedom Nevada and Build Our Center will hold a rally Tuesday night at 7 p.m. to celebrate the 9th Circuit decision at Reno City Plaza at the corner of 1st and Virginia Streets.)

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.

All three judges on the appeals court panel were appointed by Democratic presidents. President Bill Clinton appointed Judges Marsha Berzon and Ronald Gould. President Jimmy Carter appointed Judge Stephen Reinhardt.

During oral arguments in September, the debate in the appeals court over Idaho and Nevada bans focused on harm to children.

Lawyers seeking to invalidate the bans argued children of gay couples are stigmatized when their parents are prevented from marrying. Attorneys supporting the bans said gay marriages devalue traditional marriages, which will lead to fewer weddings and more single-parent homes.

Though the high court last year declared unconstitutional a federal law limiting marriage to a man and woman for determining benefits, the justices didn't address whether states could ban gay marriage.

On Monday, the nation's top court unexpectedly rejected appeals from five states seeking to preserve their bans. The decision cleared the way for a dramatic expansion of gay marriage in the United States and might have signaled that it's only a matter of time before same-sex couples can marry in all 50 states.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)


Today, Representative Steven Horsford (NV-4) released the following statement after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that gay marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho are unconstitutional and therefore cannot be enforced:

“Today is a victory for equality for all Nevadans. Same-sex couples will finally be able to marry in the Silver State. This decision, along with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to decline hearing similar appeals, reaffirms the belief of so many Americans that love is love. The modern civil rights movement for marriage equality is gaining momentum every day. Soon, Americans in all fifty states will be free to marry those they love.”

Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement today after the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of marriage equality in Nevada:


“This is a good day for Nevada as today's decision puts us on the side of equality and the right side of history. Our state and our country are strengthened by our diversity. No longer will gay and lesbian Nevadans be told that their committed relationships are less than those of straight couples. With the Ninth Circuit's decision, gay and lesbian Nevadans will soon be able to enjoy full recognition, respect and protection of their right to love. I want to commend the hard work of advocates at the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Freedom Nevada and throughout the country who were able to make this day a reality for thousands of gay and lesbian Nevadans.
“As we move forward in Nevada, let us also continue to work to ensure the same rights are extended in the states that still deny gay and lesbian couples this right. We have much work to do to achieve this goal.”

 Nevada State Democratic Party Chair Roberta Lange released the following statement regarding the 9th Circuit Court striking down Nevada's discriminatory ban on same sex marriage:

“Today's ruling is a long time coming and a victory for equality as same sex couples will finally have the freedom to marry the ones they love.   It is not the role of the government to tell consenting adults who they can and cannot love.  I'm proud that every Democrat in the Nevada legislature voted to repeal this discriminatory ban last session.  Unfortunately, nearly every Republican in the legislature voted to uphold this discriminatory ban; including Mark Hutchison, Michael Roberson, and Barbara Cegavske.  The Republican candidate for Attorney General, Adam Laxalt, said he would have fought to uphold the ban on same sex marriage if he was Attorney General.  Republicans were wrong then, and their outdated views on marriage equality and equal rights are just as wrong today.  I want to thank every Democratic member of the Nevada legislature for voting to remove this ban from our state's constitution.”

Governor Brian Sandoval and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto released the following statements in response to the ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today which struck down Nevada's same sex marriage ban.

“After 5:00 p.m. today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its mandate affirming same sex marriage is now law in Nevada. Our offices have received several inquiries regarding whether the State will seek reconsideration, rehearing, or a stay of the Court of Appeal's Order. Upon review of the Ninth Circuit's decision, the State will take no further action in this matter. County Clerks should continue to work with their respective district attorneys on the appropriate course of action.”