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Federal Judge: Nevada Allowed to Ban Gay Marriage
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Marriage can now be limited to opposite-sex couples in Nevada, according to a ruling from a federal trial court. In a report from BuzzFeed, Judge Robert C. Jones, an appointee of George W. Bush, ruled that the guarantee of equal protection of the laws from the United States Constitution does not “[prohibit] the People of the State of Nevada from maintaining statutes that reserve the institution of civil marriage to one-man–one-woman relationships.”

In his ruling, Jones said that a decision from the Supreme Court in the 1972 case of Baker v. Nelson helped him make his decision. The decision in that case denied a same-sex couple’s marriage claim because it lacked ‘substantial federal question.’ Jones also said in the ruling that the “exclusion of same-sex couples from the institution of civil marriage” was constitutional “[b]ecause the maintenance of the traditional institution of civil marriage as between one man and one woman is a legitimate state interest.”


The ruling went on to say the following: “Homosexuals have not historically been denied the right to vote, the right to serve on juries, or the right to own property. It simply cannot be seriously maintained, in light of these and other recent democratic victories, that homosexuals do not have the ability to protect themselves from discrimination through democratic processes such that extraordinary protection from majoritarian processes is appropriate.”

Jones also came to the conclusion that ‘rational basis’ has to be applied to the prohibition on allowing same-sex couples to marry in Nevada. This then led to him reaching the reasons for upholding differential treatment.

“The protection of the traditional institution of marriage, which is a conceivable basis for the distinction drawn in this case, is a legitimate state interest,” Jones said. He also added that if Nevada was to recognize marriages of same-sex couples, “it is conceivable that a meaningful percentage of heterosexual persons would cease to value the civil institution as highly as they previously had and hence enter into it less frequently … because they no longer wish to be associated with the civil institution as redefined.”

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The decision from Jones started with the following:

“Homosexual persons may marry in Nevada, but like heterosexual persons, they may not marry members of the same sex. That is, a homosexual man may marry anyone a heterosexual man may marry, and a homosexual woman may marry anyone a heterosexual woman may marry,” he wrote. “Although the State appears to have drawn no distinction at all at first glance, and although the distinction drawn by the State could be characterized as gender-based … the Court finds that for the purposes of an equal protection challenge, the distinction is definitely sexual-orientation based.”

Lambda Legal filed the case with the court and the lead lawyer working the case was Tara Borelli. She wrote the following in a statement: “We will appeal and continue to fight for these loving couples, who are harmed by Nevada’s law barring marriage for same-sex couples. By forbidding same-sex couples’ access to marriage, the State brands them and their children as second-class citizens.”


  1. Dave

    November 30, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    So allowing same-gender couples to marry will lead many straight couples to not marry. And homosexuals — who make up just a few percent of the population — have the right to vote, own property, and be on juries and so are immune from the tyranny of the majority and undeserving of protection under the 14th Amendment. And homosexuals have the right to marry just like everybody else … oh, except for the minor point that they are precluded from marrying anybody they might actually be able to fall in love and build a healthy marriage with. With that line of reasoning, interracial marriage would still be illegal in some parts of the country. What a brilliant judicial decision …

  2. RobertSanDiego

    December 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Actually,…his reasoning is spot on!!
    And the (earlier comment) about interacial marriage is completely mis-stated. Blacks and whites, etc,…can marry under (this Judge’s) proper reasoning, all the same,…as long as a man marries a woman.

    It’s interesting that homosexuals claim to push a “Tolerance of Differences and Stopping the Hate,”…through the abolition of Traditional Marriage.

    People (including homosexuals) have (always) had the (right to contract privately). Marriage is a contract & divorce is a dissolution of that contract. That is the reason for “Civil Union Contracts,” and is exactly why the Judge spoke of the rights he spoke of, (property, jury, etc.). Homosexuals are denied nothing whatsoever, by protecting the Institution of Traditional Marriage. Simply write your own contract for a civil union, spelling out exactly what it is you are contracting for and be forever joined, under God or whatever deity you wish.

    My marriage was not enriched by any homosexuals cheering for or against my (private) union, that I was contracting for according to my desires to be joined. Homosexuals should not require (nor be injured by the lack thereof) my cheering their union,…or otherwise?!? Get on with it, already,…and be happy!

  3. Gregory Peterson

    December 2, 2012 at 1:49 am

    That’s pretty much the same sort of reasoning given for laws forbidding “miscegenation” back in the 1950-60s. To paraphrase the judge’s deeply immoral ruling:

    “The protection of the traditional institution of marriage, which is a conceivable basis for the distinction drawn in this case, is a legitimate state interest. Black persons may marry in Nevada, but like white persons, they may not marry members of another race.”

    The racists of my youth claimed that they were protecting the children by protecting society from bringing down God’s wrath. God hated race mixing, you see…(insert Finis Dake’s “30 Reasons for Segregation of Races” with extensive “proof texts.” Segregation was for the proper upbringing of healthy children who would go on to lead America to ever greater glory. The children born from the “unnatural (like incest!) sin of miscegenation” were doomed to failure, to unhappy, unhealthy, miserable, isolated lives. Certainly, mixed race children could never become President…

  4. Dave

    December 2, 2012 at 9:28 am

    @Robert — well, I can at least say your comment makes every bit as much sense as the rationale behind the judge’s decision.

    (1) There are very strong parallels between same-gender marriage and interracial marriage. Sexual orientation is no more a choice than race. Wanting to marry somebody of a different race is no LESS a choice than wanting to marry somebody of the same gender … except that homosexuals are able to enter into healthy, successful marriages ONLY with people of the same gender. If antimiscegenation laws represented unconstitutional discrimination, laws against same-gender marriage are even more so. Giving people the right to enter into state-recognized civil marriages ONLY with people they can’t possibly fall in love and build healthy marriages with is giving them no right at all.

    (2) Your argument that homosexuals already have the same rights as straight people also is bogus for another reason. People who defended laws against interracial marriage before the Supreme Court (Loving v. Virginia, 1967) tried using that very same argument … that there was no discrimination because everybody was equally free to marry someone of the same race. The Supreme Court rejected that argument.

    (3) Nobody is talking about abolishing traditional marriage. I’ve been in one for over 34 years, and it won’t be impacted one bit if my LGBT friends are given the option of entering into a state-recognized civil marriage.

    (4) Your comments about contracts are complete nonsense. By and large, the issue has absolutely nothing to do with things that can be handled via private contracts. This is an 14th Amendment issue precisely because it involves state-granted benefits and protections which generally can’t be secured by private contracts between partners … things like social security survivor benefits, beneficial tax options available to straight married couples, spousal employer benefit protections, etc. And even lesser issues that can be handled via private contracts require same-gender couples to incur exorbitant legal fees that straight couples don’t for things that are conferred automatically upon marriage.

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