Ninth Circuit Sets Argument Date in Lambda Legal Case Seeking Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in Nevada

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Date: 
03/10/2014

(Las Vegas, March 10, 2014) – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today set April 9, 2014 for oral arguments in Sevcik v. Sandoval, Lambda Legal’s lawsuit challenging Nevada’s discriminatory marriage ban. Jon W. Davidson, Lambda Legal’s Legal Director and Eden/Rushing Chair issued the following statement:

“This is great news for our couples who have been working so long to have their case heard. We’re very excited to make the case for equality at the Ninth Circuit.”

Last month, Gov. Sandoval and  Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover  withdrew their arguments in support of the marriage ban after the Ninth Circuit’s  ruling in SmithKline Beecham v. Abbott Laboratories that discriminatory classifications based upon sexual orientation must receive heightened scrutiny and should be presumed unconstitutional. The heightened scrutiny standard is much more difficult to meet and rendered the state of Nevada’s arguments in its original brief defending the marriage ban “no longer tenable in the Ninth Circuit,” as Nevada’s Attorney General conceded in a statement released last week. The withdrawal of the two government defendants leaves only the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, which the U.S. District Court had allowed to intervene, defending the marriage ban.

In Sevcik v. Sandoval, Lambda Legal, joined by pro bono co-counsel from O’Melveny & Myers LLP and Snell & Wilmer LLP, represents eight same-sex couples challenging Nevada’s law banning marriage for same-sex couples. The lawsuit argues that barring same-sex couples from marriage violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution. A U.S. District Court judge granted Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit in November 2012, and Lambda Legal appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit. The State submitted its brief supporting the marriage ban to the Ninth Circuit on the same day as the Court’s ruling in SmithKline.

The lead plaintiffs in Sevcik v. Sandoval are Beverly Sevcik and Mary Baranovich of Carson City, who have been together more than 40 years, raised three children together, 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 more than 15 years and adopted a baby girl together; Karen Goody and Karen Vibe of Reno, who have been engaged since 2005; Mikyla and Katie Miller of Reno, who are raising two children; 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 more than 16 years and are raising two sons; and Megan Lanz and Sara Geiger of Las Vegas, who have been together since 2005 and have a daughter.

The case is Sevcik v. Sandoval. The Ninth Circuit order is here.

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

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Contact Info

Press contact: Tom Warnke, Cell: 213-841-4503: Email: twarnke@lambdalegal.org Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.