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Alaska Appeals As Marriage Equality Heads South?

Alaska Appeals As Marriage Equality Heads South?

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Alaska officials keep fighting marriage equality, Nevada's governor stands against antigay forces, and decisions may be imminent in Mississippi and Arkansas.

As marriage equality spreads throughout the nation, some state officials and antigay groups are continuing to fight it, while more court decisions could be coming soon.

Alaska's governor and attorney general Wednesday officially filed their appeal of a federal judge's pro-marriage equality ruling, the Alaska Dispatch News reports. It seeks what is called an en banc review of the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. That would be a hearing by 11 of the circuit's judges, not the usual three-judge panel.

"En banc hearing is warranted because Alaska's appeal presents a question of extraordinary importance whose outcome is controlled by erroneous circuit precedent," the filing states.

Legal experts note than an en banc hearing is difficult to get, because a majority of the circuit's 29 judges must agree to grant it. "Given the Supreme Court's action a couple weeks ago, there may not be many judges that want to spend resources reviewing the panel decision," University of California, Irvine, law professor Doug Nejaime told the Washington Blade. "And then there is certainly reason, given that Perry [the case that struck down California's Proposition 8] was also decided in the Ninth Circuit, to think a different result is unlikely."

Alaska same-sex couples began marrying statewide Monday.

In Nevada, Gov. Brian Sandoval said Wednesday that state officials will oppose the effort by the antigay Coalition for the Protection of Marriage to revive that state's marriage ban, the Associated Press reports. The coalition, which took up defense of the ban after state leaders opted out, is also seeking an en banc review from the Ninth Circuit, where a three-judge panel ruled for marriage equality October 7. Same-sex marriages began two days later.

And marriage equality decisions may be coming out of the Deep South in the next few weeks. In Mississippi, a U.S. district court has set a hearing for November 12 on a request for a preliminary injunction that would keep the state from enforcing its marriage ban. This comes in a case filed this week on behalf of two same-sex couples by Roberta Kaplan, the attorney behind Edie Windsor's Supreme Court victory over the Defense of Marriage Act.

"By setting the schedule that it did, the Court clearly appreciated the need for expedition on issues of such great constitutional and practical import," Kaplan said in a statement posted on the Campaign for Southern Equality's website.

In Arkansas, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced will not object if the state Supreme Court fast-tracks its hearing of a marriage equality case, the AP reports. McDaniel, who says he personally supports marriage equality but is duty-bound to defend the state's laws, is appealing a May decision by a Pulaski County judge striking down the Arkansas marriage ban. Hundreds of same-sex couples married before the judge's ruling was put on hold.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has not yet scheduled the hearing. In a separate Arkansas marriage equality case, at the federal court level, a U.S. district judge has set a hearing for November 20.



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