Gay marriage bans in Idaho, Nevada struck down

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down gay marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that gay couples’ equal protection rights were violated by the bans

The three-judge panel did not decide on a similar case in Hawaii, which legalized gay marriage in December. Hawaii’s governor had asked the court to toss out a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban and an appeal to the 9th Circuit filed before Hawaii lawmakers legalized same-sex marriages.

State and federal court judges have been striking down bans at a rapid rate since a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year. The 9th Circuit ruling comes a day after the Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage in 11 more states, for a total of 30, when it rejected a set of appeals.

All three judges on the appeals court panel were appointed by Democratic presidents. President Bill Clinton appointed Judges Marsha Berzon and Ronald Gould. President Jimmy Carter appointed Judge Stephen Reinhardt.

During oral arguments in September, the debate in the appeals court over Idaho and Nevada bans focused on harm to children.

Lawyers seeking to invalidate the bans argued children of gay couples are stigmatized when their parents are prevented from marrying. Attorneys supporting the bans said gay marriages devalue traditional marriages, which will lead to fewer weddings and more single-parent homes.

Though the high court last year declared unconstitutional a federal law limiting marriage to a man and woman for determining benefits, the justices didn’t address whether states could ban gay marriage.

On Monday, the nation’s top court unexpectedly rejected appeals from five states seeking to preserve their bans. The decision cleared the way for a dramatic expansion of gay marriage in the United States and might have signaled that it’s only a matter of time before same-sex couples can marry in all 50 states.

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