AG files brief for governor standing against gay marriage

The progressives already are fuming on Twitter.

I'm sure this will be a huge issue in the governor's race. Wait....

The brief is posted here.


I chatted with Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto about this, wondering how this was different than her refusal to side with the state in suing the feds over Obamacare and whether Gov. Brian Sandoval, the client who was sued, could have declined to file a brief.

The attorney general drew a distinction between affirmatively suing over The Affordable Care Act, which she refused to do saying it was unnecessary because the outcome would affect Nevada the same whether it joined or not, and being statutorily mandated to defend her client. Cortez Masto cited NRS 228.110 and NRS 228.170, which essentially say she has to defend the state.

But, I wondered, if the relationship is the same as between a private attorney and private client, couldn't the latter, in this case the governor, have declined to file a brief? Cortez Masto frankly told me she wasn't sure what the rules of the Ninth Circuit were (that is, whether they madnated a response brief) and that her deputies had worked with Sandoval's office on the case.

But she checked. And her spokeswoman, Jennifer Lopez, later told me: "Yes, the client can direct the Attorney General’s office not to file a responsive brief before the Ninth Circuit."

I asked the governor's office whether he considered asking the AG not to file a brief. Crickets.

UPDATED, 4:15 pm: A spokeswoman for the governor told me: "It's my understanding that the AG didn't provide or communicate the option to not file." 

Really? And I thought he used to be a federal judge. (I kid. I kid.)

Sandoval and Cortez Masto clearly understand the issue's sensitivity, and the governor, a Catholic, clearly doesn't believe in gay marriage but believes the case should proceed. Sandoval told the AP's Sandra Chereb that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman, but that he will respect the court's decision and added, "I believe the people of NV should have the freedom to decide should this issue come before them for a vote."

That may happen in 2016 if the next Legislature approves the resolution passed last year.

And, not surprisingly, Rep. Dina Titus laced Sandoval: “The Governor is wrong on this issue. The fight for marriage equality is not about special rights for a few, but equal rights for all. This is the wrong message to send to the thousands of Nevadans who want their loving relationships recognized the same as those of their straight friends and neighbors. I am not alone in believing that the State of Nevada needs to remove discrimination from our Constitution. A clear majority of Nevadans believe in marriage equality. I will continue to advocate against discrimination and unequal treatment under the law at all levels of government. Nevada has a rich history of welcoming loving couples from across our great country to join in marriage. Our LGBT friends and relatives should be treated no differently.”

Titus did not, however, announce her candidacy for governor.