Justice Kennedy Only Blocked Gay Marriage In Nevada Because He Got Confused, So Go Back To Celebrating
There was a bit of confusion in Nevada this week when Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy blocked gay marriage just a day after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that same-sex unions were legal in the state. Kennedy imposed the hold on same-sex marriage in Nevada on Wednesday as couples were about to make their way to the courthouse for marriage licenses. But as it turns out, Kennedy really didn't mean to block gay marriage at all; he was just as confused as Nevadans.
The Associated Press reports that hours after he blocked same-sex marriages from going forward in Nevada, Kennedy lifted the hold with a small "oops." The justice who was once BFFs with Ruth Bader Ginsburg explained that he only meant to block gay marriage in Idaho, not Nevada. So, Nevadans can go back to celebrating their new same-sex unions.
The confusion most likely stemmed from Tuesday's 9th Circuit ruling, which applied to both Nevada and Idaho. The 9th Circuit nullified both states' bans on same-sex marriage, issuing an immediate mandate. The court ruled that the defendants didn't have evidence supporting their claims that gay marriage was harmful to "the welfare of children."
In their decision, the court wrote:
Because defendants have failed to demonstrate that these laws further any legitimate purpose, they unjustifiably discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and are in violation of the Equal Protection Clause,
According to the SCOTUS blog, Idaho officials filed an emergency request with the 9th Circuit at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Then, the Idaho governor's office filed a request with the Supreme Court, asking for a delay. Nevada officials, however, didn't file any requests. Lyle Denniston for the SCOTUS blog writes that officials in Nevada "stopped defending their state’s ban, so they were prepared for marriage licenses to be issued to gay and lesbian couples."
That didn't stop Kennedy from issuing an order halting gay marriage in both Nevada and Idaho on Wednesday, until he realized, "Oh, I didn't mean to do that." It's OK, Kennedy, we all make mistakes sometimes.
Considering that the Supreme Court decided to not take on same-sex marriage in its next term, it was strange that Kennedy would block gay unions from going forward in Nevada without receiving any requests from state officials. The high court's decision to not take up appeals on gay marriage bans in five different states means that gay couples in Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Indiana can now marry legally.
The Supreme Court's decision to let these rulings by the lower courts, which all struck down gay-marriage bans, may also affect six other states that had their bans overturned by federal appeals courts: Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, West Virgina, North Carolina and South Carolina. In fact, state officials in Colorado said this week that some counties are now starting to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
So, to recap: Nevada has gay marriage. Idaho is still on hold for the time-being.
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