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BREAKING: Federal judge agrees to hear Nevada marriage equality lawsuit

Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials Sevcik v Sandoval

By Scottie Thomaston

A hearing was held today in Nevada on two motions in Sevcik v. Sandoval, Lambda Legal’s marriage equality lawsuit. The judge has just agreed that the case can proceed:

(Las Vegas, August 10, 2012)—The U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada today agreed to hear a lawsuit brought by Lambda Legal on behalf of eight same-sex couples challenging Nevada’s law banning marriage for same-sex couples.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, joined by Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover, had moved to dismiss the case. Today, the Court agreed to hear that motion at the same time as hearing argument in the parties’ motion for summary judgment.

The two motions discussed in the hearing today were: (1) a motion to intervene by the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, and (2) a motion to dismiss by Governor Brian Sandoval based on Baker v. Nelson. Prop 8 Trial Tracker reader Greg in SLC attended the hearing, and he noted in a comment that, “Nevada district court right now. Hearing has ended. Judge seems clearly conservative. He was skeptical of entering any expert testimony to support plaintiffs. Mary and Beverly are dear beautiful people, as are the other plaintiffs we met. Next court date on this case set for Monday after thanksgiving in Reno, NV.”

Lambda Legal’s Tara Borelli comments:

“This is an important first step in bringing the freedom to marry to Nevada,” said Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Tara Borelli. “These loving couples, burdened by the stigma of Nevada’s marriage ban, will have the chance to demonstrate in court that their relationships and their families are worthy of equal dignity and respect.”

We will have more as this story develops, and see this post for an introduction to our continuing coverage of this trial.


  • 1. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  August 10, 2012 at 11:21 am

    [...] BREAKING: Federal judge agrees to hear Nevada marriage equality lawsuit [...]

  • 2. Kathleen  |  August 10, 2012 at 11:24 am

    It's hard to know without seeing the actual order (which isn't on the docket yet), but it sounds like the judge simply delayed making a decision on the motion to dismiss, continuing it to a later hearing set for November. At that time, the judge will consider the motion to dismiss along with plaintiff's (yet to be filed) motion for summary judgment.

    In the meantime, Magistate Judge Peggy A. Leen has set a conference for Augus 28 at 10:30 a.m. in Las Vegas to determine a discovery plan and briefing schedule.

  • 3. mtnbill  |  August 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    I think that after the Perry v. Brown trial, no trial will want to include testimony on the facts, but rather rely on an interpretation of the law. I think even the faculty at BYU could not come up with adequate testimony on the issues. Interpretation of the law allows for more flexibility devising how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    My own belief is that the State of Nevada does not have the $ to put on a full court press on the issues, and that there is likely a division of opinion between the governor and the attorney general on the issue. I doubt will see prop 8 playing out with the Gov and AG deciding not to appeal if they lose the case.

    Also, at this point, are there any new arguments which can be made. Even BLAG seems to repeat the same case points no matter what the case.

    I also assume this will go to the 9th circuit if the judge gives us the same argument as did the dissenting judge in the Perry v. Brown case–the BYU defense?

  • 4. Gregory in SLC  |  August 10, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    The way you describe this seems accurate. It was a bit hard to follow. As mentioned before the judge seem conservative biased…had no idea until after the hearing that the judge is a BYU Mormon graduate…so his retorich, sarcastic laughter and demeanor at this "type of arrangement" is not so surprising…

    On a bright side Beverly and Mary are FABULOUS people! Articulate, bright, caring, loving. They told us they were a little nervous about exposing their family to critism but Mary said they have 99% positive feedback and they feel good about their decision to participate. The met and fell in love 40 year ago in Seattle and have been residing in NV for about 11 years.


  • 5. Kathleen  |  August 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    WONDERFUL photos, Gregory. Thank you so much for being there. So wish I could have joined you.

  • 6. mtnbill  |  August 10, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    There is an article in the Reno Gazette Journal about the case. From the summary, it appears that judge cited many of the other cases going on, and their status, and made the comment about getting the circus train going.

    from the article:

    “It makes sense to get this decided and off with the circus train,” he (Jones) said.

    Friday’s schedule-setting hearing was mostly procedural. The judge didn’t throw out the Nevada case, but he heard no arguments on the merits.

    Jones allowed the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage to intervene with defendants, and said he planned to rely on oral and written arguments from attorneys, not courtroom testimony from people who might be offered as experts on the history of discrimination against homosexuals.

    “Testimony would be not only useless but an absurd inquiry,” Jones said.

  • 7. mtnbill  |  August 10, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    two other parts of the article:

    U.S. District Chief Judge Robert Jones cited other gay marriage challenges in various stages of appeal in California and in other state and federal courts, and said he wants to quickly decide the lawsuit filed by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund against Gov. Brian Sandoval and various officials.

    Jones noted a difference in the California and Nevada cases. The California ballot initiative aimed to kill a law that had been enacted to recognize same-sex marriages, while the Nevada Legislature didn’t extend to same-sex couples the same degree of legal protection.

  • 8. Nevada’s marriage equal&hellip  |  August 11, 2012 at 1:23 am

    [...] UPDATE:: Just in: the federal judge has agreed the case can go forward. [...]

  • 9. Sagesse  |  August 11, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Mitt Romney just announced Paul Ryan as his VP running mate, and my initial reaction was 'I have no idea what Ryan's position on LGBT rights is'. Before I do some homework, thought I'd pose the question here. Is this a good, bad or indifferent (no worse than any other) choice?

    He's a teabagger, relatively inexperienced and his economic positions are a disaster, but beyond that, I don't know a lot about him as a VP candidate. Viewed as an observer in Canada who doesn't have a vote.

  • 10. Steve  |  August 11, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Actually, he announced him as the "next president". LOL

    Ryan is very anti-gay, although he is reluctant to talk about it and doesn't focus on social issues when campaigning. He voted for ENDA once, only to chang his tune when the religious right got hold of him. Then he voted against the federal hate crime act, against DADT repeal, in favor of a federal same-sex marriage ban, and voted against Washington DC's gay adoption and registered partnerships. He is also anti-abortion.

  • 11. Sagesse  |  August 11, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Well I guess this answers my question.

    Paul Ryan as VP Matches Mitt Romney on Homophobia

    I do note, however, that however consistent his voting record, he has not made high profile statements of his position (perhaps because, unlike Michele Bachmann or Rick Santorum, not every word out of his mouth makes headlines). That probably changes as of today.

  • 12. Theo  |  August 11, 2012 at 10:55 am

    The interesting thing about this Judge, is that the concept of "judicial bias" that was artificially trumped up to discredit Judge Vaughn's blisteringly accurate ruling regarding CA's failed (and 100% illegal) Flop 8.

    What does it mean to a Mormon Judge that his marriage could be "destroyed" each time LGBT familes get treated even a tiny bit more equal…?

    What does it men when your "religious" Elders claim your soul will be in danger if you don't "thwart The Gays" each and every time the political opportunity pops up?

    Every red herring ever used to keep us as 3/5 "citizens" in our own country, seems poised to backfire on the Antigay Agenda once and for all.


    The moment we get them under oath to that same "god" they claim to be "honoring" with their lies…We win.

    The Summer of Love, 2012 continues as Flop 8, the first domino, falls. For good.

    And it gets better.

  • 13. wes228  |  August 11, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Um marriage bans do not fail constitutional scrutiny *every* time it is applied in court…see Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning.

    Bans on same-sex marriage are probably constitutional under rational basis review. We will need strict scrutiny to win this battle.

  • 14. Mike in Baltimore  |  August 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    You already recognize that he is a tea bagger. There are few to none tea baggers who are friends of the GLBT community, let alone in favor of marriage equality.

    And Paul Ryan says he is a Latin Rite Catholic, who follows the words of the Pope.

  • 15. Stefan  |  August 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    That was back in 2006. 6 years is lightyears when it comes to an issue like same-sex marriage.

    DOMA has failed even under simple rational basis review BTW

  • 16. wes228  |  August 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    That is still the most authoritative decision on pure right-to-marry since Baker v. Nelson. Given the laxity of rational basis it will be hard to show that same-sex couples are due a right to marry.

    DOMA failed rational basis but it is not a right-to-marry case. The plaintiffs in these cases are already married thus it is harder to justify why the federal government would treat these already-married couples differently from heterosexual ones. It is harder to show that couples are due a right to marry in the first place. In the DOMA cases, they've already been granted this right.

  • 17. Stefan  |  August 12, 2012 at 1:26 am

    Giving the rapidly changing dynamics, I fully expect that appeals courts will begin holding LGBT individuals to strict scrutiny, as per the Obama Administration's orders.

  • 18. Nickey J  |  August 12, 2012 at 11:48 am

    <img src="">I think the biggest news is Paul Ryan being chosen as VP candidate. <img src=""&gt;

  • 19. Rich  |  August 12, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    On another matter and another big piece of news. The NOM web-site is allowing posters to now threaten gay people with violence should marriage equality advance. A courageous poster named Claude is calling them out on it but it's getting very ugly and he's taking a lot of heat. Hope the Southern Poverty Law Center is on top of this.

  • 20. Reformed  |  August 12, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Does anyone know where the phrase "thousands of scantily clad gay men and lesbians said they would lock lips in a coast to coast red hot make out session" that has been copied from somewhere and posted to hundreds of conservative blogs including NOM's. (re chick fil a protest).

    Is this a smear campaign that can be tracked to a particular source? I was aware of a protest and that a kiss was involved, and frankly was worried about it because of this very type of thing.

    My investigative skills are not up to this task. Hoping some knows because this make me sick.

  • 21. Mike in Baltimore  |  August 12, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Doing a quick Google search, it looks like the phrase was first posted at the web site '' on August 4, then repeated by the rag called the NY Post on August 5.

    I'm sure Alexander Hamilton is spinning in his grave at the damage done to that once fine newspaper since Murduck took it over.

  • 22. Reformed  |  August 13, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Their website looks like a rag for sure. "thousands said" seems like a pretty hard quote to back up. With reputable organization to look to for what this protest "was about", i think this writer needs to be called out.

  • 23. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  November 29, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    [...] an equal protection challenge to Nevada’s constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. There was an initial hearing in the case on August 10, and the judge decided to hear arguments on the motions to dismiss as well [...]

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