The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments for and against state marriage bans in Idaho, Nevada, and Hawaii — the first time the Ninth Circuit has revisited marriage equality since striking down California’s Proposition 8 in 2012.
Two of the three judges on the panel have ruled favorably on LGBT-rights decisions in the past.
Throughout the hearing, the panel of judges voiced skepticism over whether there is any compelling state interest in allowing state bans to remain legal, and pressed state lawyers to defend the rationale for the bans. At one point, Judge Marsha Berzon said to the lawyer defending two of the three bans, “You’re sending a message that these are less desirable families. That is what you’re doing.”
This is the first time a marriage case is being heard from a state that already has marriage equality. Hawaii became a marriage equality state last fall after Gov. Neil Abercrombie called a special session to deal with the issue. When the court rules in favor of marriage equality — which they’re very likely to do — Nevada officials have already said they do not plan to challenge the ruling and will allow same-sex marriage to begin. Idaho is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.