Gay marriage bans fall in Idaho, Nevada after high court decision

Wed Oct 8, 2014 10:17am EDT
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By Dan Levine

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Legal momentum for extending U.S. marriage rights to same-sex couples accelerated on Tuesday as a federal appeals court struck down bans on gay matrimony in Idaho and Nevada a day after the U.S. Supreme Court let stand similar rulings for five other states.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled the bans in Idaho and Nevada violated the constitution and cannot be enforced, adding to a growing list of states where same-sex unions are now legal.

The 9th Circuit move puts the United States on track for legal gay marriage in 35 states, as rulings by the court are binding on all states in its region including three others that do not permit gay marriage, Arizona, Montana and Alaska.

"We're on cloud nine! We're on the roof!" said lead Nevada plaintiff Mary Baranovich of Carson City, adding that she was now planning long-overdue nuptials with her partner of 43 years, Beverly Sevcik, with whom she has raised three children.

In Idaho, Ty Carson and her lesbian partner of 16 years, Becky McGavin, were among the gay couples who planned to rush to the county courthouse in Boise to receive licenses.

"This is beyond my wildest dreams. I'm trying to get hold of Becky so we can get married as soon as possible," Carson said.

Nevada's Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, whose state withdrew its opposition to gay marriage earlier this year, said he respected the ruling, and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada welcomed it warmly.

"No longer will gay and lesbian Nevadans be told that their committed relationships are less than those of straight couples," Reid said.   Continued...

(L to R) Plaintiffs Moudi Sbeity and his partner Derek Kitchen, Kody Partridge and her wife Laurie Wood take a a "selfie" as they celebrate at a same-sex marriage rally in Salt Lake City, Utah, October 6, 2014. REUTERS/Jim