Federal Court to Hear Lambda Legal Case Seeking Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in Nevada
(Las Vegas, August 10, 2012)—The U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada today agreed to hear a lawsuit brought by Lambda Legal on behalf of eight same-sex couples challenging Nevada’s law banning marriage for same-sex couples.
Gov. Brian Sandoval, joined by Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover, had moved to dismiss the case. Today, the Court agreed to hear that motion at the same time as hearing argument in the parties’ motion for summary judgment.
“This is an important first step in bringing the freedom to marry to Nevada,” said Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Tara Borelli. “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.”
Also today, the Court granted a motion by the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage to intervene as a defendant in the lawsuit. The group was the proponent of the ballot initiative banning same-sex couples from marriage.
In the lawsuit, Lambda Legal, joined by pro bono co-counsel from O’Melveny & Myers LLP and Snell & Wilmer LLP, argues that Nevada’s law barring same-sex couples from marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
“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,” Borelli said. “By not allowing them to marry, the State brands these loving couples and their children as second-class citizens.”
The lead plaintiffs in the case are Beverly Sevcik, 74, and Mary Baranovich, 76, of Carson City, who have been together for nearly 41 years, raising three children and 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 14 years and adopted a baby girl last year; Karen Goody and Karen Vibe of Reno, who have been engaged since 2005; Mikyla and Katie Miller of Reno, parents of a newborn baby girl; 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 15 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.
Lambda Legal attorneys Jon Davidson, Tara Borelli, Peter Renn and Shelbi Day are handling the case, joined by Carla Christofferson, Dawn Sestito, Melanie Cristol and Rahi Azizi of O’Melveny & Myers, and Kelly Dove, Marek Bute and Andrew Jacobs of Snell & Wilmer.