Victory! Ninth Circuit Strikes Down Marriage Ban for Same-Sex Couples in Nevada and Idaho

Find Your State

Know the laws in your state that protect LGBT people and people living with HIV.

Our Sponsors

“We are so pleased that wedding bells will finally ring for all same-sex couples in Nevada. Based on the Ninth Circuit’s clear instructions to the trial court, we expect that couples will be able to marry soon.”
October 7, 2014

(San Francisco, October 7, 2014) – Today in a unanimous decision the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit struck down discriminatory marriage bans for same-sex couples in Nevada and Idaho. The decision comes just one month after Lambda Legal argued on behalf of eight Nevada couples and their children in the case Sevcik v. Sandoval. Idaho couples are represented by Boise attorney Deborah A. Ferguson and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

The Ninth Circuit held, “The lessons of our constitutional history are clear: inclusion strengthens, rather than weakens, our most important institutions.  . . .  When same-sex couples are married, just as when opposite-sex couples are married, they serve as models of loving commitment to all.”

“We are so pleased that wedding bells will finally ring for all same-sex couples in Nevada ,” said Tara Borelli, Senior Attorney at Lambda Legal who argued the case before the Ninth Circuit. “Based on the Ninth Circuit’s clear instructions to the trial court, we expect that couples will be able to marry soon.”

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 left only the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, which the U.S. District Court had allowed to intervene, defending the state’s marriage ban.

”We are just so delighted that finally, after 43 years together, we will soon be able to get married and celebrate our love for and commitment to each other with family and friends in the state we have long called home,” said lead plaintiff Beverly Sevcik. Added her partner, Mary Baranovich, “When Bev and I met, I must admit we never thought this day would come. But now it’s here, and how sweet it is.”

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. A U.S. District Court judge rejected the federal constitutional claims made in the lawsuit in November 2012, and Lambda Legal appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit. Today’s ruling overturned that District Court ruling and found denying same-sex couples access to marriage violates their right to equal protection of the law.  Concurring opinions agreed and also concluded that the states’ marriage bans violate due process and unconstitutionally discriminate on the basis of sex as well as sexual orientation. This decision will also pave the path to marriage equality in other Ninth Circuit states, including Arizona, Alaska, and Montana.

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 16 years and are raising two children; 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 17 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.

Read the decision here: http://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/sevcik_nv_20141007_order

The case is Sevcik v. Sandoval.

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.

###

Contact Info

Tom Warnke, 213-841-4503; twarnke@lambdalegal.org

Share