Friday, June 28, 2013

The Long Road Ahead

This week has been an incredibly momentous one for LGBTQ civil rights. As soon as the US Supreme Court issued its rulings on two critical marriage equality cases, Americans across the country (and here in Nevada) celebrated. Locally, we've been reminded of the continuing struggle for marriage equality here.

And yesterday, Jon Ralston provided another reminder. Specifically, Ralston was speculating on what might happen under a worst case scenario of a Republican takeover of the Nevada State Senate in 2014 and a loss of Senator Ben Kieckhefer (R-Reno, and the lone GOP Senator to vote for SJR 13 this year) to higher office or a primary challenge. Under this worst case scenario, what should otherwise be a re-passing of something that already passed could quickly become an ugly demise for equality.

This is a stark reminder of the high stakes and fragile road ahead for equality here in Nevada.

Sure, the Nevada Legislature is not the only path forward for marriage equality. As we speak now, Sevcik v. Sandoval is still pending in the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, which is the same court that ruled on Prop 8 early last year. But as we saw with the Prop 8 and DOMA cases, federal law suits take a long time to resolve. And while the DOMA case especially sets a good precedent for LGBTQ civil rights going forward, it's still a gamble to speculate on how the US Supreme Court will specifically rule on Nevada's marriage suit.

So there are two paths forward to full civil marriage equality. Both are doable, but neither is 100% guaranteed. One likely requires Democratic control of both houses of the Nevada Legislature in 2015, while the other requires an amenable US Supreme Court with a majority inclined to use US v. Windsor (the DOMA suit) as precedent in Sevcik v. Sandoval. Equality activists will need to prepare to continue traveling up that long road ahead.

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