Nevada's Gay Marriage Ban Questioned

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CARSON CITY, NV - The Carson City District Attorney has joined the ranks questioning the constitutionality of Nevada's same-sex marriage ban. District Attorney Neil Rombardo announced late Monday his office would no longer defend the case.

The decision comes after the Attorney General's Office announced Friday it was not sure how to defend the case after a ruling last week changed the permeates.

In her announcement Friday, Catherine Cortez Masto said a ruling in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals involving gay jurors appears to impact the arguments the state was using to support its ban on same-sex marriages.

It's now unclear how or if the state will continue its fight against gay marriage.

In 2002, Nevada voters banned same-sex marriage. A lawsuit alleging the ban violated the Constitution's Equal Protection clause immediately challenged the ban. That case was appealed all the way to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where Attorney General Cortez Masto filed a brief last week.

"I was taken aback. I was disappointed because i have known her to be a fair-minded person," said Bob Fulkerson with Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.

Fulkerson says the Attorney General ruffled a lot of feathers in her brief. It said the ban served the "legitimate purpose of preserving traditional marriage."

"The writing is on the wall that Nevada's law is outdated and legally it is not going to be able to stand," said Fulkerson.

On the same day Cortez Masto filed her brief, the Ninth Circuit ruled on another case involving lawyers trying to exclude gay jurors. In that decision the court said excluding someone based on sexual orientation is a violation of the equal protection clause.

"The court decided that this kind of discrimination is highly suspect and should be carefully reviewed by the courts," said Tara Borelli with Lambda Law, the firm that is bringing the case against Nevada.

"It's very encouraging that the attorney general and the governor are giving this careful consideration," said Borelli.

What remains to be seen is exactly how or if the state will continue to support its ban. Reached Monday by email, the Attorney General's office said it' "conducting further analysis in order to evaluate the state's argument," and is not ready to comment at this time.

In case the court battle does not change the status of gay marriage in Nevada, there is another plan in the works. In the last Legislative session, lawmakers voted to overturn the gay marriage ban. It has to be approved by the Legislature again in 2015 and then approved by voters in 2016 before it becomes law.