Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval's (R) administration decided on Monday not to defend the state's marriage equality ban, prompting some praise from local LGBT activists.
"That's very smart on his part," GetEQUAL lead organizer for Nevada Derek Washington told The Raw Story Monday evening. "That is basically the best political move he's made in years."
The Associated Press reported that Sandoval is backing Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto's (D) withdrawal of the state's brief to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals supporting Question 2 against a legal challenge by eight same-sex couples. The appeals court took on the case after a federal judge in Reno upheld the law in 2012.
"After thoughtful review and analysis, the state has determined that its arguments grounded upon equal protection and due process are no longer sustainable," Masto wrote in a motion to the appeals court. Sandoval was quoted by the AP as saying that after consulting with Masto, his administration felt "this case is no longer defensible in court."
If the couples win their lawsuit, Masto's brief effectively prevents the defendants, the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, from appealing the case to the Supreme Court. The appeals court could still rule that Question 2, an amendment to the state constitution approved by voters in 2002, is unconstitutional.
The Advocate reported on Jan. 24 that Masto had previously filed a 55-page brief in support of the law listing same-sex couples alongside bigamist and incestual couples -- both defined as felonies -- as being excluded from having legal marriages.
"For over a century, marriage in Nevada has been between an adult, unmarried, consenting man and woman, who are no more closely related than second cousins," she wrote at the time.
Washington said that the crumbling defense for marriage equality bans comes down to lawmakers having to decide if they want to be remembered alongside opponents of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
"I'm sure that any thinking person in the 21st century can see: Do you want to be a Bull Connor, or do you want to be a Martin Luther King Jr.?," he said.
[Image: Lesbian married couple via Shutterstock]