Tuesday, February 11, 2014

No Leg Left to Stand On

What a turnaround here. Last month, Governor Brian Sandoval (R) and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) submitted a brief for the State of Nevada to the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals that raised eyebrows and dropped jaws. And it did so for all the wrong reasons.

Perhaps the backlash finally got to them, or perhaps they finally did realize they have no legal leg left to stand on in Sevcik v. Sandoval. Whatever the case, both elected officials announced late yesterday that they're dropping the legal defense of Question 2. And all of a sudden, no one is left to defend Nevada's marriage equality ban.

So what's next? Most likely, we're about to see a replay of what happened when Perry v. Brown (aka the California Prop 8 suit) reached the US Supreme Court. After the Governor & Attorney General of California declined to defend Prop 8 in court, the Yes on 8 campaign stepped up to do so. But once the case reached SCOTUS, the Justices ultimately issued a 5-4 ruling that determined the Yes on 8 campaign had no legal standing to represent the entire State of California.

Now that Governor Sandoval & Attorney General Cortez Masto have dropped the State of Nevada's official defense of Question 2, there's no one left with the legal heft to represent the State of Nevada. Even if "the usual suspects" try to step in for the State, they will likely run into the same trouble that the Yes on 8 campaign did thanks to the precedent set by the Supreme Court last year in Perry v. Brown.

In many ways, we're now approaching a rather anticlimactic end to what has been a difficult (and ultimately embarrassing) period of Nevada history. Not too long ago, Question 2 was considered to be "settled law" and marriage discrimination was "the norm". But when a few plucky Nevadans decided to sue for equality, everything began to change. And when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) announced the ultimate change of heart, even more monumental change followed.

But now, the end of marriage discrimination in Nevada is looking increasingly inevitable. And yesterday's announcement from Brian Sandoval & Catherine Cortez Masto only confirms this. Simply put, marriage discrimination has no leg left to stand on.

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