CARSON CITY, Nev. -- Nevada's Attorney General is refusing to defend the state in a lawsuit challenging Nevada's definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. Voters in 2002 banned same sex couples from getting married, but recently, officials from Carson City, Clark and Washoe Counties have withdrawn their support of the ban and Nevada's top attorney has decided not to defend the ban. The move possibly shows attitudes in the silver state are changing.
"There's simply no excuse to treat lesbians and gay men as second class citizens," Tara Borelli from Lambda Legal, said.
That is one of the arguments behind a lawsuit filed in 2012 against Nevada, claiming that banning same sex marriage is unconstitutional. The case made it all the way to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. However, Monday afternoon, the state's Attorney General says she won't fight to uphold the ban.
"It's very exciting to see that every official in the case seeking marriage between same sex couples has now decided that nevada discriminatory excluding them from marriage just can't be justified and doesn't deserve a defense," said Borelli.
It also means the state will not argue to uphold the constitutional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.
"It is something that people understand as an opportunity for love and commitment for couples to be able to spend their lives together," Stacey Shinn from Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), said.
She says she's glad the state's resources will no longer be used to block gay couples from getting married.
"Political climate is changing and since the Ninth Circuit made a ruling last month, this shifted what both the Attorney General and governor were thinking," she said. "It doesn't look like that will to fight the law to continue is still there."
Governor Brian Sandoval supports the move, saying "the state's arguments are no longer defensible in court," but it's still up to the court to decide how it will move forward
"Hopefully, every loving couple will be able to be married in a few years in nevada," Shinn said.
The legislature approved allowing same-sex couples to wed in 2013, but the measure would still have to pass in the 2015 legislature in order for it to go to the voters.