Lambda Legal Appeals Nevada Marriage Lawsuit to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

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“The world has changed dramatically since we filed this lawsuit over a year ago. Nevada’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples has become exponentially more harmful to same-sex couples who are barred from a sweeping array federal benefits as well.”
October 18, 2013

(Las Vegas, October 18, 2013) – Today Lambda Legal filed its opening brief with the  Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case on behalf of eight same-sex couples challenging the amendment to Nevada’s constitution and other state laws banning marriage for same-sex couples.

“The world has changed dramatically since we filed this lawsuit over a year ago,” said Tara Borelli, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Western Regional Office. “After the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking down Section 3 of DOMA, Nevada’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples has become exponentially more harmful to same-sex couples who are barred from a sweeping array of federal benefits as well.”

The brief argues: “As the arbiter of which couples may be married in the State, Nevada thus holds the key to access for the sweeping array of spousal rights and responsibilities available under federal law, and keeps them locked away from same-sex couples under the marriage ban.  By foreclosing same-sex couples from marriage, Nevada inflicts virtually the same collection of federal harms and deprivations on unmarried same-sex couples as DOMA previously did, since nearly all federal benefits are unavailable to unmarried couples, regardless of whether they are registered domestic partners.”

In the lawsuit, Lambda Legal, joined by pro bono co-counsel from O’Melveny & Myers LLP and Snell & Wilmer LLP, argues that Nevada’s laws barring same-sex couples from marriage violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

The lead plaintiffs in the case are Beverly Sevcik, 75, and Mary Baranovich, 77, of Carson City, who have been together for 42 years, raised three children and are now the proud grandmothers of four grandchildren.  The other plaintiffs are: Antioco Carrillo and Theo Small of Las Vegas, who have been together since 2006; Fletcher Whitwell and Greg Flamer of Las Vegas, who have been together for 15 years and are raising a daughter; Karen Goody and Karen Vibe of Reno, who have been engaged since 2005; Mikyla and Katie Miller of Reno, who are raising a daughter; Adele Terranova and Tara Newberry of Las Vegas, who are raising two children; Caren and Farrell Cafferata-Jenkins of Carson City, who have been together for 16 years and are raising two sons; and Megan Lanz and Sara Geiger of Las Vegas, who have been together since 2004 and have a daughter.

The case is Sevcik v. Sandoval.

The brief is still in process but once filed and final will be linked here: http://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/sevcik_20131018_opening-b...

Lambda Legal attorneys Jon Davidson, Tara Borelli, Peter Renn and Shelbi Day are handling the case, joined by Carla Christofferson, Dawn Sestito, Dimitri Portnoi, Melanie Cristol, and Rahi Azizi of O’Melveny & Myers, and Kelly H. Dove, Marek P. Bute, and Andrew Jacobs of Snell & Wilmer.

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Contact Info

Lisa Hardaway Cell: 973-902-9298; Email: lhardaway@lambdalegal.org

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