Lawyers acting on behalf of Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval have argued that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage serves a legitimate purpose – to preserve opposite-sex marriage.

A filing by the Nevada Attorney General’s office to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday was made over a challenge to the same-sex marriage ban which claimed that the ban had a legitimate purpose.

Back in 2012, a federal judge upheld Nevada’s ban on equal marriage. US District Judge Robert Jones threw out the lawsuit tiled by eight gay couples against the 2002 voter-approved constitutional amendment defining marriage as between opposite-sex couples only.

Judge Jones also said that Nevada has a “legitimate state interest” in maintaining marriage as between one man and one woman.

During the Senate debate around a bill to repeal the ban earlier this tear, Senator Kelvin Atkinson nervously announced that he is gay, saying he had not intended to come out, but felt that the time was right. 

“I’m black. I’m gay… I know this is the first time many of you have heard me say that I am a black, gay male,” he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nevada, in October filed a brief challenging the state’s ban on equal marriage.

A bill to repeal the ban was approved last year by the Legislature but still needs more action to be passed.