Eight gay and lesbian couples have
filed a federal lawsuit in Nevada seeking equal marriage rights.
The couples are being represented by
Lambda Legal and Education Fund. Sevcik v. Sandoval is the
legal group's first marriage equality lawsuit filed in federal court,
marking a strategic shift for Lambda Legal.
Two women in their seventies who have
been together more than 4 decades are the lawsuit's lead plaintiffs.
Republican Governor Brian Sandoval is the named defendant.
Beverly Sevcik, 73, and Mary
Baranovich, 76, have raised three children and have four
Nevada lawmakers in 2009 overrode a
veto from then-Governor Jim Gibbons to approve domestic partnerships,
which provide gay couples some of the protections of marriage.
Lambda Legal staff attorney Tara
Borelli told gay weekly Metro
Weekly that the state's decision to create a parallel
institution for gay couples is “irrational.”
“One of the reasons that we're suing
in the state of Nevada is that this is a particular equal protection
problem that this case examines. It's the kind off problem created
where a state excludes same-sex couples from marriage, deems them fit
for all the rights and responsibilities of marriage through a lesser
second-class status – I this case, domestic partnership. That
shows just how irrational that state's decision is to shut same-sex
couples out of marriage,” Borelli said.
Previously, Lambda Legal had warned
other groups against pursuing litigation in federal court, saying a
loss in the U.S. Supreme Court would set back the marriage equality
movement. The new suit then suggests that the legal group believes
the high court would rule in its favor.