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Nevada Clerk Changes Position On Gay Marriage Ban Following Ninth Circuit Case Ruling

Following in the footsteps of Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, Carson City Clerk Alan Glover has revised his opinion on the state's same-sex marriage ban (and the impending court case surrounding it).

GloverBoth Masto and Glover are reconsidering their stances based on the Ninth Circuit court's ruling on SmithKline Beecham v. Abbott Laboratories, which ruled that attorneys may not exclude jurors based on sexual orientation. The case indicated that heightened scrutiny is required in judicial processes where sexual orientation is the cause of alleged discrimination.

Where Masto is only reviewing the brief she filed in support of the same-sex marriage ban, Glover has gone a step further and filed a letter to withdraw his brief.

Equality On Trial reports:

The filing notes that he’s no longer opposed to the same-sex couples’ position in the case. He’s intending to file a notice of “non-opposition” with the appeals court...

Because the court now considers sexual orientation to be a “quasi-suspect” classification warranting more judicial scrutiny, the letter suggests, the clerk is less concerned about the broad reach of any eventual decision: it would be tied to sexual orientation claims and wouldn’t reach polygamy claims.

The impact of SmithKline Beecham v. Abbott Laboratories is already being deeply felt, but how much further will it go? Time will tell.


NV Atty General Reconsiders Brief Defending Gay Marriage Ban: 'Arguments No Longer Tenable'

Nevada's Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who compared gay marriage to bigamy and incest in a brief defending the state's ban this week, says now that she will reconsider that brief, Gannett reports:

Cortez“The case made here is that the State of Nevada’s marriage law is constitutional because it serves the legitimate purpose of preserving traditional marriage,” Masto’s solicitor general wrote in the brief.

On Friday evening, Masto released a statement saying she is reviewing the brief in light of the 9th Circuit’s opinion in SmithKline Beechum Corp. v. Abbott Laboratories.

“The Ninth Circuit’s new decision…appears to impact the equal protection and due process arguments made on behalf of the state,” Masto said in the written statement. “After careful review of the SmithKline decision these arguments are likely no longer tenable in the Ninth Circuit.

“This office will conduct further review over the weekend in order to evaluate the state’s argument in light of SmithKline.We will be discussing this with the Governor’s Office next week.”

The case she is referring to is one in which the 9th Circuit ruled that attorneys could not exclude gay jurors from juries based on their sexual orientation.

In a piece written earlier this week, Towleroad's legal editor Ari Ezra Waldman predicted that the SmithKline Beechum Corp. v. Abbott Laboratories ruling would be impacting marriage equality cases around the country.


NV Attorney General Links Gay Marriage To Bigamy, Incest In Brief Defending State's Ban

Masto56Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) has an onslaught of backlash headed her way after a brief she filed on Tuesday linked same-sex marriage to bigamy and incest. The brief, responding to the Lambda Legal-filed case Sevick v. Sandoval which is challenging Nevada's 2002 ban on gay marriage, stands in vehement opposition to repealing the ban, reportedly "on the basis that it reflects the will of the people." Masto believes that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals need not apply heightened scrutiny to this case as “There exists neither fundamental right, nor suspect or quasi- suspect class, justifying a different standard of review.” A controversial perspective, to be sure, but not nearly as much as the direct links she draws among gay marriage, incest, and bigamy.

The Washington Blade reports:

But in a section titled “Marriage Defined” explaining “what marriage is” and “what marriage is not,” Masto reminds the court that in addition to not being for same-sex couples under Nevada law, marriage is also not for those engaging in bigamy or incest.

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...

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, took Masto to task for making an implicit comparison between same-sex marriage and bigamy or incest while saying she makes no solid argument against allowing gay nuptials in Nevada.

“Marriage is not ‘defined’ by who is denied it, and nothing in the brief explains why loving and committed couples of the same sex should be denied the legal commitment and bundle of obligations and protections that are available to different-sex couples,” Wolfson said.

Masto differs from other Democratic state attorney generals who have recently decided not to defend gay marriage bans based on their lack of constitutional validity. For their part, Lambda Legal will have words with Masto soon.

Jon Davidson, Lambda’s legal director, said “of course, we find any such comparison objectionable” between same-sex marriage and bigamy or incest. The organization is slated to file its formal response to the attorney general’s brief next month.

GetEQUAL Nevada lead organizer Derek Washington, a friend of Attorney General Masto's, issued the following statement in response to her brief:

"I count Attorney General Cortez Masto as one of my very first mentors, having met her at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. I am deeply disappointed that she would take the positions she has in her vigorous defense of a law that I find discriminatory and against the ideals of equality this great country was founded on. For the Attorney General to equate marriage equality with bigamy and incest is not only jaw dropping, but it is also a personal affront from someone I thought understood that we, LGBTQ Nevadans, are just the same as all other Nevadans. We work hard, send our children to school and contribute to the health of our communities. To be lumped in with bigamists and sexual criminals by a friend is, to say the very least, heartbreaking."


Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) Becomes Key 60th Vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

HellerIn a statement released this morning, Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) announced his support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), making him the critical 60th vote necessary to avoid a potential filibuster.

Said Heller:

"After listening to Nevadans' concerns about this issue from a variety of viewpoints and after numerous conversations with my colleagues, I feel that supporting this legislation is the right thing to do. Under the leadership of this Governor, as well as the legislature over the past several years, Nevada has established a solid foundation of anti-discrimination laws. This legislation raises the federal standards to match what we have come to expect in Nevada, which is that discrimination must not be tolerated under any circumstances."

ENDA is scheduled for a vote later today. 


Lambda Legal Appeals Decision Barring Gay Couples From Marrying In Nevada To Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals

6a00d8341c730253ef0168e9e3492f970c-200wiYesterday, Lambda Legal filed their opening brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case challenging Nevada's constitutional amendment and other laws banning same-sex marriage. The appeal comes after the initial case was rebuffed by a federal judge in November 2012. The appeal with the Ninth Circuit was filed December of that same year but was stalled as the U.S. Supreme Court considered Hollingsworth v. Perry (Prop. 8) and United States v. Windsor (DOMA). At the time, many lower courts were looking to those rulings for guidance as to how they should enact their own jurisprudence in cases pertaining to same-sex marriage.

In their argument to the Ninth Circuit, Lambda Legal posits that the Supreme Court's ruling on DOMA makes it all the more necessary for the Ninth Circuit to act in their favor because same-sex couples in Nevada are being denied federal benefits that the Supreme Court ruled they ought to be afforded.

Via Lambda Legal's press release:

6a00d8341c730253ef017c3420d235970b-250wi"The world has changed dramatically since we filed this lawsuit over a year ago," said Tara Borelli, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal's Western Regional Office. "After the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling striking down Section 3 of DOMA, Nevada's ban on marriage for same-sex couples has become exponentially more harmful to same-sex couples who are barred from a sweeping array of federal benefits as well."

The brief argues: "As the arbiter of which couples may be married in the State, Nevada thus holds the key to access for the sweeping array of spousal rights and responsibilities available under federal law, and keeps them locked away from same-sex couples under the marriage ban.  By foreclosing same-sex couples from marriage, Nevada inflicts virtually the same collection of federal harms and deprivations on unmarried same-sex couples as DOMA previously did, since nearly all federal benefits are unavailable to unmarried couples, regardless of whether they are registered domestic partners."

In addition to legal challenges to Nevada's anti-equality laws, there is also an attempt underway to get marriage equality on the ballot in 2016 in Nevada.


LGBT Latino Population in U.S. Grows to Over 1.4 Million: REPORT

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A newly released report by the UCLA's Williams Institute estimates that 1.4 million, or 4.3% of the Latino adults in the U.S. identify themselves as LGBT. The report was conducted, in part, to gain an understanding of the socioeconomic and family situation of LGBT Latinos in the country. Latino Post breaks down some of the report's other findings:

According to the research, areas with higher concentrations of Hispanics have more LGBT Latinos, the leading states being Texas, Nevada and California. Those same states, unfortunately, are states that tend to have fewer legal protections for LGBT people.

"While sometimes less visible in popular representations of LGBT people and families, Latinos make up a sizeable portion of the LGBT population, and they tend to live in Latino, as opposed to LGBT, communities," said co-author Gary J. Gates.

The survey also indicates that of the 1,419,200 LGBT Latinos in the US, it's estimated that roughly 30 percent of same-sex couples who live together also live in populations with high volumes of Latinos. Though, of those couples, a full 63 percent are interracial; one of the partners not being Latino.

LGBT Latinos have a higher rate of unemployment (14 percent) than "straight" Latinos (11 percent); though more LGBT Latinos have college degrees (26 percent) compared to their heterosexual counterparts (14 percent). And LGBT Latinos earn a higher median income.

To read the report in full, click HERE


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