Three State Gay Marriage Ban Appeals to be Heard

Three state gay marriage bans, for Hawaii, Nevada and Idaho, come under federal appeals court scrutiny Monday before three federal appeals judges who have supported gay rights in the past, including the author of the decision to strike down California’s same-sex marriage ban.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel includes Judges Stephen Reinhardt, considered one of the court’s most liberal judges, Marsha Berzon and Ronald Gould, both appointed by President Bill Clinton.

Reinhardt wrote the 2012 opinion striking down the California gay marriage ban and earlier this year wrote an opinion that held removing someone from a jury pool because they are gay is illegal discrimination.  Berzon joined in that ruling.

In 2008, Gould wrote an opinion that reinstated the lawsuit by a military nurse who was fired under the former “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Of the three cases set for hearing at 1p.m. in San Francisco, the Hawaii case is an appeal by the Hawaii Family Forum, which opposes gay marriage.  The group is asking the appeals court to keep alive their legal challenge even though the legislature in Hawaii legalized same-sex marriage in December.

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has appealed a lower court decision that invalidated his state’s ban on gay marriage.

And in Nevada, a coalition that sponsored the state constitutional amendment imposing a ban on same sex marriage will defend that law.  A federal judge in Nevada upheld the ban.  But in January, Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval said the state will no longer defend the ban on appeal because the position is no longer defensible in court.

Other State Bans Fall

In the last year, courts around the country have invalidated gay marriage bans in a dozen states.  Just last week the 7th Circuit appeals court in Chicago rejected bans in Wisconsin and Indiana.  A federal judge in Oregon struck down same-sex marriage ban and state court judges in New Jersey, Arkansas and New Mexico have allow allowed marriage equality in the last year.  A total of 19 states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriages.

But the rulings have not all supported gay rights. A federal judge in New Orleans upheld Louisiana’s ban on gay marriage last week.

[This story will be updated after the arguments today.]

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