Federal judge agrees to hear Nevada marriage lawsuit

Today, a federal judge from the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada agreed to hear Sevcik v. Sandoval, a lawsuit brought by Lambda Legal on behalf of eight same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses in Nevada (including Beverly Sevcik and Mary Baranovich, right). In 2002, Nevada passed a constitutional amendment at the ballot that banned marriage for same-sex couples - and although same-sex couples have been permitted to enter into domestic partnerships since 2009, these partnerships are not the same as marriages. Couples in the state are now pushing with this lawsuit to eliminate the ban on marriage.

A hearing in Nevada today dealt with two motions in the case, which was filed in April 2012 by Lambda. One came from Gov. Brian Sandoval, who moved to dismiss the case, while another came from the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, one of the groups that worked to pass the anti-gay amendment back in 2002. The Coalition for the Protection of Marriage requested to intervene in the case as a defendant.

The judge today said that the case should proceed, permitting the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage to intervene as a defendant. 

Tara Borelli, Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal, commented on the news today. She said:

This is an important first step in bringing the freedom to marry to Nevada. These loving couples, burdened by the stigma of Nevada's marriage ban, will have the chance to demonstrate in court that their relationships and their families are worthy of equal dignity and respect.

Nevada's prohibition on marriage for same-sex couples serves no legitimate state interest, a fact the state even acknowledged by creating a parallel, but less respected, legal status of registered domestic partners. By not allowing them to marry, the state brands these loving couples and their children as second-class citizens.

Sevcik v. Sandoval is one of four legal cases related to the freedom to marry making its way through the courts in district and federal courts. The others are the famous Proposition 8 case in California, the state Lambda Legal lawsuit in Illinois that was filed in June 2012, and Jackson v. Abercrombie in Hawaii. You can read all about these cases and track their developments on our new State Legal Cases page, available HERE