The Corner

Federal Court in Nevada Upholds Marriage Law

In the wake of the Ninth Circuit’s decision striking down Proposition 8, Lambda Legal sued the State of Nevada alleging the state’s marriage amendment was a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Yesterday, the trial court issued a decision rejecting the claim and upholding Nevada’s law.

The court said “the maintenance of the traditional institution of civil marriage as between one man and one woman is a legitimate state interest.” The opinion further held: “Because the family is the basic societal unit, the State could have validly reasoned that the consequences of altering the traditional definition of civil marriage could be severe.”

The court’s holding on the question of whether same-sex marriage advocates are politically powerless is particularly interesting:

Today, unlike in 1990, the public media are flooded with editorial, commercial, and artistic messages urging the acceptance of homosexuals. Anti-homosexual messages are rare in the national informational and entertainment media, except that antihomosexual characters are occasionally used as foils for pro-homosexual viewpoints in entertainment media. Homosexuals serve openly in federal and state political offices. The President of the United States has announced his personal acceptance of the concept of same-sex marriage, and the announcement was widely applauded in the national media. Not only has the President expressed his moral support, he has directed the Attorney General not to defend against legal challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), a federal law denying recognition to same-sex marriages at the federal level. It is exceedingly rare that a president refuses in his official capacity to defend a democratically enacted federal law in court based upon his personal political disagreements. That the homosexual-rights lobby has achieved this indicates that the group has great political power. . . . In 2012 America, anti-homosexual viewpoints are widely regarded as uncouth. . . . Plaintiffs’ democratic loss on a particular issue does not prove that they lack political power.

With this decision, there are now six federal courts that have rejected equal-protection arguments for redefining marriage: the District of Nevada, District of Hawaii, Middle District of Florida, Western District of Washington (Bankruptcy), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court in a summary decision issued in 1972. 

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