On Monday, September 29, 2014 Federal court Judges in the U.S. 9th District Court of Appeals in San Francisco will see the proposal on the bans on same-sex marriage in Nevada, Idaho, and Hawaii. There is much speculation about how they will rule. In the hearings this past Monday, the U.S. Appeals Judges seem inclined to rule against the same-sex marriage bans in these three states.
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican, stated “It has become clear that the cause is no longer defensible in court.” Attorneys for the Collation for the Protection of Marriage, however, have a different view of the ban. Monte Stewart, an attorney for the group, stated that opposite-sex marriages send to children an important social message. He also stated that children benefit by the support of both their biological mother and father. In rebuttal to this, Jon Davidson, legal director for Lambda Legal, states “the case keeps getting easier and easier to win because of wins in 19 other states. Kate Kendall who leads the National Center for Lesbian Rights, added her support as well.
Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter is appealing a lower court’s decision tossing out the states same-sex marriage ban, hoping to see it re-instituted.
Hawaii attorneys who represent the group Hawaii Family Forum, are asking the court to keep alive the forum’s previous legal case which resulted in a ban on same-sex marriages. Though the state legalized same-sex marriage in December, the group hopes to prevent that case from being vacated so that they may present future challenges to the December law.
The U.S. 9th District Court of Appeals consists of three Judges. Each member has joined or written laws for gay rights. They are considering a ruling from Idaho overturning the states ban. They are also considering a Nevada District Court Judge’s decision from November that upheld the state’s prohibition. Lastly, they will hear arguments from Hawaii to remove from the law books a 2012 District Court ruling against same-sex marriages.
Marsha S. Berson, a Clinton appointee, stated in court that states governments may promote social messages in other ways such as billboards and advertisements. She also stated that Stewart’s defense is a message that people who want same-sex unions are second-rate citizens. She also noted that same-sex marriage bans are close to gender discrimination.
Steven Reignhard, a Carter appointee, wrote the 2012 ruling overturning the Proposition 8 ban in California. He stated that people who are attracted to their own gender “also have the right to live their lives as humans.”
Judge Ronald Gould was a Clinton appointee who authored an opinion for a case challenging the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for the U.S. military. He concluded that the regulations which applied to discharges were requiring a higher burden of proof, and that it raised the difficulty for defendants contesting a discharge. That case, and his opinion, led to a subsequent ruling that the discharge in question was unconstitutional. He participated via satellite from Seattle, Washington.
The U.S. 9th District Court of Appeals has no deadline to rule.
By J. Dylan Halen