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Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals allows Hawaii and Nevada marriage cases to be heard on a parallel track

Jackson Sevcik v Sandoval

By Scottie Thomaston

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will allow the Hawaii and Nevada cases challenging state marriage restrictions to opposite sex couples to be briefed and heard on a parallel track. Both cases involve challenges to bans on same-sex marriage where a state offers its gay and lesbian couples many or all of the same rights as opposite-sex couples, but denies them the title of “marriage.”

Lambda Legal, representing the plaintiffs in the Nevada case Sevcik v. Sandoval filed the request, citing the similarities between the issues to be resolved and the closeness of the appeals – both cases were appealed to the Ninth Circuit within months of each other. Governor Abercombie in Hawaii then filed a reply in support of the motion, but suggesting that he would only file briefs in Jackson v. Abercrombie, the Hawaii case, and not the Nevada case.

No party objected to the filing except the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, defendant-intervenors in the Nevada case and sponsors of Nevada’s anti-gay marriage amendment. In a subsequent reply, Lambda Legal suggested the Coalition had misrepresented the scope of the claims filed and that given the similarities and the fact that in both cases the gay and lesbian plaintiffs lost before the district court there would be no harm in hearing the cases together.

The Hawaii Jackson case was stayed temporarily until March 5 by request (the request was for a stay pending Supreme Court action in the Prop 8 case.)

However, the new filing notes that, “Proceedings in all three cases [the Nevada case and the two consolidated Hawaii cases] are stayed until April 1, 2013. Absent any further motion, the stay will be lifted without further order and the following schedule will apply: the opening briefs will be due May 1, 2013, the answering briefs will be due May 31, 2013, and the optional reply briefs will be due 14 days after service of the last-served respective answering brief.”

Presumably an additional stay will be sought at least until Supreme Court resolution in Perry.

h/t Kathleen for this filing

12-17668 #11

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