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Nevada marriage ban case may have potential to strike down bans US-wide

A Nevada political observer believes a Supreme Court challenge to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage has the potential to spread marriage equality to all 50 states
Las Vegas, Nevada
Photo by Brendel Signature

Slash/Politics blogger and Las Vegas Review-Journal political watcher Steve Sebelius believes a Supreme Court challenge to Nevada’s ban on gay couples marrying could legalize same-sex marriage across the United States.

Writing in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Sebelius argued that the Sevcik v. Sandoval challenge to the state’s voter passed ban on same-sex marriage mirrors the challenge to California’s Prop 8 because it was also passed by the voters.

In that case the Supreme Court decided to send the case back to the state rather than ruling on it – thus allowing California to begin marrying same-sex couples as had been ruled by a lower court.

However the ban on same-sex marriage in Nevada is different as the state’s Republican Governor Brian Sandoval is defending the ban, whereas the state of California refused to defend its law – meaning that if the case comes before the Supreme Court it will have to rule on it – potentially legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States.

‘There is one significant difference which may become a factor as Sevcik v. Sandoval is argued,’ Sebelius wrote.

‘In California, thanks to a state Supreme Court ruling, gay couples briefly had access to legal marriage. In Nevada, they’ve never had that right. But the plaintiffs in Sevcik v. Sandoval argue that Nevada’s domestic partnership law grants them marriage rights in everything but name, and thus the two cases are similar.’

US District Judge Robert C Jones upheld Nevada’s ban on same-sex marriage but the plaintiffs have appealed to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals – the same court that initially struck down Prop 8.

If the 9th US Court of Appeals rules against Nevada’s ban and Governor Sandoval appeals to the Supreme Court, Sebelius believes it is likely that a majority of justices will rule against Nevada in line with the recent rulings by the court in favor of repealing Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.

The court could either rule that Nevada’s ban was unconstitutional or rule that all state bans are unconstitutional.

‘For a state that gained fame (and tourism) as a haven for quickie divorce, to be the home of the case that finally extends marriage equality nationwide might be almost fitting,’ Sebelius wrote.

In another move that could be influential on the court, the Nevada state Senate passed a resolution in favor of marriage equality in April.

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