Dustin Siggins

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Nevada governor says he won’t defend state’s marriage amendment

Dustin Siggins

CARSON CITY, NV, February 11, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On the heels of the announcement by Virginia's attorney general that he will not defend the constitutional amendment enshrining marriage as between a man and a woman, Nevada's attorney general and governor are following suit.

Approved by voters and added to the state constitution in 2002, the Nevada amendment (which can be seen in full here) has been challenged by eight same-sex couples. Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Gov. Brian Sandoval, who defended the law just last month, had previously filed in support of the amendment in November 2012.

However, Masto has now declared that since the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has said sexual orientation cannot be the sole reason for taking potential jurors off of a jury, “the state has determined that its arguments grounded upon equal protection and due process are no longer sustainable.”

Gov. Sandoval, who is seeking re-election, told the Associated Press that “it has become clear that this case is no longer defensible in court.” It was reported in January that Nevada's top officials were considering abandoning the case, which was upheld by a lower court.

Nevada Families for Freedom President Janine Hansen called the governor's decision “a disgrace,” telling LifeSiteNews that “we are now a government which has abandoned the will of the people, and we are governed by judicial fiat, and leadership like the governor's, who has capitulated to the anti-family forces in our state.”

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“It's a disgrace to the people of Nevada that the governor will not defend a constitutional amendment, or marriage between a man and a woman, passed overwhelmingly by 70 percent of the people in Nevada,” Hansen said.

The jury ruling cited by Masto came from the 9th Circuit Court in January, and added sexual orientation to reasons that have to be explicitly cited if a potential juror is eliminated from contention. Previously, only race and gender had been under this category, starting in 1986 for race and in the 1990s for gender. The 9th Circuit Court's decision is at odds with another District Court decision, which The New York Times says makes a review by the Supreme Court likely.

Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex “marriage.” Several states that ban same-sex “marriages” have attorneys general who are not defending state amendments, some because of personal beliefs and others because they appear to believe such amendments are not defensible.

Last year, Nevada lawmakers began the years-long process to repeal the state ban. If specific legislation passes the Senate in 2015, it would be decided upon by voters in 2016.

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