LAS VEGAS, NV - The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada hails the lawsuit, filed today in federal district court in Nevada by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, seeking marriage equality in Nevada.

“Nevada already has an all-but-marriage domestic partnership law, which was passed by the Nevada State Legislature in 2009,” said Dane S. Claussen, Executive Director of the ACLU of Nevada. “That Nevada’s constitution says the word ‘marriage’ can be used only for opposite-sex relationships strongly suggests that gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons, and their most important personal relationships, are second-class.”

Claussen added, “It’s ironic, as well as truly unfortunate, that in Las Vegas, historically known as the Marriage Capital of the World, a substantial segment of residents and visitors cannot get married—not to mention the fact that those same couples can get married in many other U.S. states and other countries.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, working with GLBT and other groups, played a critical role in the Nevada State Legislature’s passage of not only Nevada’s domestic partnership law in 2009, but also other major legislation protecting GLBT persons that have been passed by the Nevada State Legislature both before and since. (For example, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment and housing has been illegal in Nevada since 1999.) The ACLU of Nevada started the gay rights movement in Nevada, as documented (see by Dennis McBride, Curator of Collections and History at the Nevada State Museum.

The national American Civil Liberties Union has supported same-sex marriage rights for about 20 years, since even before many national GLBT groups did; at that time, many GLBT groups considered gay marriage to be an unrealistic goal or a goal that would dominate public debates on other GLBT issues, such as the now-dead “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue” policy in the U.S. military, adoption by same-sex couples, openly gay clergy, and protection from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Today, six states and the District of Columbia currently offer same-sex marriage, and legislation that would allow it recently has passed in two others (Washington state and Maryland). Thirteen other states, including Nevada, currently offer civil unions or domestic partnerships that include most or all of the rights and responsibilities as marriages.

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