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Idaho, Nev. Gay Marriage Bans Are Unconstitutional: 9th Cir.

Idaho and Nevada's gay marriage bans were struck down as unconstitutional on Tuesday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A three-judge panel of the federal appellate court found that both states' laws were in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law. In their majority opinion, the judges also found that each state had failed to meet the level of scrutiny applied to laws which discriminate against gays and lesbians.

What does this ruling mean for states in the 9th Circuit?

Gay Marriage in Idaho and Nevada (and More to Come)

Today's ruling directly affects the enforcement of gay marriage bans in both Nevada and Idaho, meaning gays and lesbians can begin getting married there very shortly. It also affects the states in the 9th Circuit which hadn't yet legalized gay marriage: Arizona, Alaska, and Montana. The 9th Circuit's ruling is enforceable in these states, meaning that gay marriage may soon be legal in at least 35 states.

Ironically, Tuesday's ruling is in large part due to an earlier ruling in a drug case, where the 9th Circuit ruled that jurors could not be excused based on their sexual orientation. Judge Stephen Reinhardt closed his majority opinion in the ruling below by stating, "The lessons of our constitutional history are clear: inclusion strengthens, rather than weakens, our most important institutions."

Ninth Circuit Decision: Idaho and Nevada Gay Marriage Bans Unconstitutional