Intent is to Impose Inequality on Gay People and Their Intimate Relationships

LAS VEGAS, NV – On Friday, October 25, 2013 the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada filed a friend of the court brief in a federal lawsuit that challenges Nevada’s constitutional ban against same-sex marriage.

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Nevada’s constitution was amended in 2002 to include that "[o]nly a marriage between a male and female person shall be recognized and given effect in this state,” restricting marriage to different-sex couples and denying all loving couples the freedom to marry in Nevada. In its amicus brief, the ACLU of Nevada argues that Nevada’s constitutional ban against same-sex marriage should be struck down because the “exclusion burdens the fundamental right to marry.”

“Marriage is not a right to be reserved for only select citizens, but a right that every loving couple in Nevada should be entitled to,” said ACLU of Nevada Executive Director Tod Story.

On November 26, 2012, the United States District Court for the District of Nevada ruled against the same-sex couples seeking to marry on the grounds that the state has an interest in maintaining a “traditional” definition of marriage. However, the ACLU of Nevada argues that Nevada’s marriage ban must be justified by a different, legitimate state interest. “Indeed, the fact that a form of discrimination has been ‘traditional’ is a reason to be more skeptical of its rationality,” the ACLU of Nevada says in its brief. And later the ACLU of Nevada argues that “[t]he unmistakable intent of the marriage bans is to impose inequality on gay people and their intimate relationships.”

“The unmistakable primary purpose and practical effect of the marriage ban is to disparage and injure same-sex couples,” said Staci Pratt, ACLU of Nevada Legal Director. “No state can possess a legitimate interest in such animus.”

The case, Sevcik v. Sandoval, was filed in U.S. District Court on April 10, 2012 by Lambda Legal. After the District Court’s ruling, the case was placed on hold until the United States Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, which struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act on June 26, 2013. This case will be heard on a parallel track with a case raising similar issues from Hawai'i, Jackson v. Abercrombie.

Additional Resources

- The ACLU of Nevada's amicus brief in Sevcik v. Sandoval (PDF)

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