Ninth Circuit Hears Oral Argument in Lambda Legal Case Seeking Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in Nevada

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September 8, 2014
Beverly Sevcik and Mary Baranovich

Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in Sevcik v. Sandoval, Lambda Legal’s lawsuit challenging Nevada’s discriminatory marriage ban.

Tara Borelli, Senior Attorney at Lambda Legal who argued before the Ninth Circuit today, said:

We are very hopeful that wedding bells will be ringing soon for same-sex couples in Nevada. As we have seen at oral arguments around the country—including today—those trying to defend marriage bans have run out of any answers that can justify ongoing state discrimination against same-sex couples.

Love Unites US: Nevada

Governor Sandoval and Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover withdrew their briefs 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 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 state’s marriage ban.

Borelli added:

Nevada’s marriage ban is particularly vulnerable -- not only has the state itself refused to defend the ban but the precedent set by the Ninth Circuit requires laws targeting gay people to be automatically considered unconstitutional unless the state can prove that the discrimination is necessary.

Meet the families fighting for marriage in Nevada.

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 rejected the claims made in the lawsuit in November 2012, and Lambda Legal appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals also heard arguments today in a marriage case in Idaho brought by Attorney Deborah Ferguson and our colleagues at the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Read the press release.