A federal appeals court declared gay marriage legal in Nevada and Idaho on Tuesday, a day after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized same-sex marriage in 30 other states.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco struck down the two states’ bans on gay marriage, ruling they violated equal protection rights.
In the Nevada case, the panel instructed the district court to promptly issue a permanent injunction barring the state from enforcing any constitutional provision, statute, regulation or policy barring same-sex couples from marrying or denying recognition of those marriages in other states.
Carson City Clerk/Recorder Alan Glover said the District Attorney’s office has informed him he can begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 21 days.
He said that’s 14 days for an appeal and seven more days to issue the appropriate mandate.
“We’re ready to go. We just need to have clearance from the DA’s office,” Glover said.
He said unfortunately for his office and in Douglas County, that will come right at the end of early voting. In both Carson and Douglas, the clerk’s office, elections division and marriage license bureau are handled by the same staff.
“We may end up recommending they go to Reno,” he said pointing the marriage bureau is separate there and may be able to process applications much more quickly.
“We’ll see how it goes,” he said.
Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto essentially reiterated what Glover said in her statement: “We are encouraged by the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. However, although the Ninth Circuit has filed its decision in the case, it has not yet issued its mandate. The parties have 14 days to seek reconsideration or seek a stay to file an appeal with the United States Supreme Court. County clerks should work with their respective district attorneys on the appropriate course of action,” she said.
The lead plaintiffs from Carson City in the Nevada lawsuit challenging the ban issued a statement saying they were elated about the decision.
“We are just so delighted that finally, after 43 years together, we will soon be able to get married,” Beverly Sevcik said in a statement issued through Lambda Legal.
The original Nevada lawsuit, Sevcik v. Sandoval, was filed in April, 2012 on behalf of eight Nevada couples. It said the 2002 state constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by denying same-sex couples in Nevada the same rights, dignity and security other married couples enjoy.
Sevcik’s partner, Mary Baranovich, said they looked forward to a ceremony with family and friends in Carson City.
“When Bev and I met, I must admit we never thought this day would come,” Baranovich said. “But now it’s here, and how sweet it is.”
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the decision “puts us on the side of equality and the right side of history.”
Nevada’s two Democratic U.S. representatives also hailed the decision. “The court has clearly articulated that all Nevadans, regardless of whom they love, shall be treated equally in the eyes of the law,” said Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev.
Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev, said, “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, said Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev.
Governor Brian Sandoval released the following statement in response to the ruling:
“The ruling today confirmed my previous position that the State’s arguments against same sex marriage are no longer defensible in court. The SmithKline decision in February changed the legal standard which is why we originally withdrew our appeal. I respect the decision of the Court.” Sandoval said.
Nevada Democratic state Sen. Kelvin Atkinson said he proposed to his partner immediately after hearing about the ruling.
Atkinson said he called his partner, Sherwood Howard, on Tuesday afternoon to break the news about the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling and also to pop the question.
He said he hoped to discuss wedding plans on the phone call, but didn’t make much progress because Howard was crying.
Atkinson said the two have been together for about 6 ½ years and planned on getting married, but didn’t want to do it in another state.
Atkinson said he wants to tie the knot as soon as county clerks begin issuing licenses.