Courts & Crime

Another appellate court strikes down same-sex marriage bans, in Idaho and Nevada

Another appellate court struck down same-sex marriage bans on Tuesday, one day after the Supreme Court declined to take up the issue.

In a highly anticipated but not at-all unexpected decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said the marriage restrictions in Idaho and Nevada violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, spelled out in the Fourteenth Amendment.

“The lessons of our constitutional history are clear: inclusion strengthens, rather than weakens, our most important institutions,” Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote for the three-judge panel, adding that “when same-sex couples are married, just as when opposite-sex couples are married, they serve as models of loving commitment to all.”

The 34-page ruling continues the appellate winning streak for marriage equality advocates, who have previously prevailed in three other appellate circuits.

Nevada officials had stopped defending their state’s marriage restrictions. Idaho’s defense continued, but was brushed off by the appellate judges.

“They cannot even explain the manner in which, as they predict, children of opposite-sex couples will be harmed” by same-sex marriages, Reinhardt wrote, adding that the restrictions “impose profound legal, financial, social and psychic harms on numerous citizens.”

The reasoning in the decision Tuesday will also extend to Arizona, Montana and Alaska, three Ninth Circuit states that still have same-sex marriage bans on the books, according to a Freedom to Marry tally.