A federal lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry for same-sex couples and respect for marriages legally performed in other states, Sevcik v. Sandoval, is currently pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Oral argument in the case are scheduled for September, and briefing in the appeal – including amici briefs from dozens of organizations and individuals in support of the freedom to marry – is nearly complete. A trial court decision in the case, issued November 2012, ruled against the freedom to marry, and the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund quickly filed an appeal.
The case was filed in April 2012 on behalf of eight same-sex couples who had been denied marriage licenses in Nevada.
In February 2014, Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto – who had previously been defending the marriage ban – declared that she and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican, would no longer defend the state’s marriage ban. The Attorney General withdrew the state’s brief opposing marriage for same-sex couples, explaining, “After thorough analysis and review, the arguments grounded upon equal protection and due process are no longer sustainable.”
The state’s decision to stop defending discrimination was sparked by a January 2014 ruling in a separate case in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that found that gay people could not be excluded from juries because of their sexuality. Essentially, the case found that sexual orientation is a class protected by heightened scrutiny – and legal prognosticators had explained immediately following the ruling that it could dramatically alter the Sevcik v. Sandoval case.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Nevada’s marriage case on September 8, 2014. A ruling can be issued at any time. To be notified of the ruling, as well as to join our celebration when Decision Day comes, click here to RSVP.