On eve of Valentine’s Day, campaign launches in anticipation of ballot measure to allow committed same-sex couples to marry

Freedom Nevada

RENO AND LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – Today, in an effort to remove discrimination from Nevada’s Constitution and win the freedom to marry for all couples in the state, ACLU of Nevada, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, the Human Rights Campaign, and Freedom to Marry launched a grassroots public education campaign called Freedom Nevada. The move is in anticipation of an expected 2016 ballot measure on marriage and comes as a high-profile court case on marriage is advancing rapidly through the judicial system.

“Every gay, and lesbian person is part of someone’s family, whether they be a brother, a sister, an uncle, an aunt, a father or a mother, and they should be treated with the same compassion and respect afforded to all people," said Tod Story, ACLU of Nevada Executive Director. "Today, we begin the public discussion about freedom and liberty in Nevada and why marriage equality matters."

Freedom Nevada will open a dialogue with Nevadans about why marriage is important to same-sex couples and their families and is consistent with values of liberty and freedom.

“Nevadans believe in freedom,” said local businessman Monte Miller, a conservative Nevada Republican. “Any two people should have the right to marry - it's a fundamental right.  I find it unbelievable that we even need to debate this, and I’m proud to join this effort to remove discrimination from the Nevada constitution.”

Freedom Nevada will equip supporters with tools and training to share personal stories about why marriage matters to them. The campaign will foster community dialogue – showing that all gay and lesbian couples are part of families and should be treated with compassion and respect.

Nevada is home to Sevcik v. Sandoval, one of the farthest-along cases of the more than 40 similar lawsuits around the country and one of four cases currently pending at the federal appellate level. If resolution is not achieved in the case this year, observers expect the legislature to take up the issue in 2015, as they consider whether to pass the second legislative referral required to put marriage on the ballot in the 2016 election.

“Valentine’s Day is about love, whether you are gay or straight, ,” said Ron Virtue and John Jaworek of North Las Vegas. “We’ve been celebrating Valentine’s Day together for 45 years. But this year it’s especially sweet – because we finally have a glimmer of hope that soon we’ll be able to stand up in front, make a lifetime commitment and be recognized legally as a family.”

Business and faith leaders from across the state have already pledged their commitment to winning marriage for all, as have influential supporters including Michael and Jenna Morton, State Bar of Nevada LGBT Caucus, Bishop Dan Edwards, and Reno Mayor Bob Cashell.

“Latinos have been at the forefront of fighting against discrimination,” said Nora Luna of Las Mujeres Professional Network. “Supporting marriage for gay couples is an important step forward for America. No person should face discrimination when they hope to marry."

“We are taught to treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves,” said Reverend Rick Millsap of Trinity Episcopal Church. “Singling out one group of people for unfair treatment by not letting them marry the person they love is not how we do things in Nevada.”

For more information about the Freedom Nevada campaign, including how to pledge to win the freedom to marry in Nevada and to share a story about why marriage matters, visit www.freedomnevada.org.