The administration of Nevada Governor
Brian Sandoval has asked a federal court to dismiss a challenge to
Nevada's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in the state.
Responding to a lawsuit filed in April
by legal group Lambda Legal on behalf of eight gay couples
challenging the constitutionality of Nevada's 2002 voter-approved
amendment, Sandoval said the states, not the federal government, get
to decide on marriage.
“[T]he central question involved –
the definition of marriage – is peculiarly and traditionally the
right of states to define,” Wayne Howle, solicitor general in the
state attorney general's office, stated in a written response.
The suit's lead plaintiffs, Beverly
Sevcik, 73, and Mary Baranovich, 76, of Carson City, have been
together nearly 41 years, raised 3 children and have 4 grandchildren.
“We've seen each other through thick
and thin, in sickness and in health,” Sevcik said in a statement.
“After four decades of sharing a life together, all we want is to
show our love for each other as other couples do, through marriage.”
Lambda Legal staff attorney Tara
Borelli said Nevada's 2009 domestic partnership law conflicts with
the argument that gay couples do not qualify for marriage.
“Nevada's prohibition on marriage for
same-sex couples serves no legitimate state interest, a fact the
state even acknowledged by creating a parallel, but less respected,
legal status of registered domestic partners,” Borelli said. “The
ban on marriage equality brands these loving couples and their
children as second-class citizens, and encourages private bias and
The case, Sevcik v. Sandoval,
represents a strategic legal shift for the legal group which in 2009
warned the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) against
pursuing litigation in federal court, saying a loss in the U.S.
Supreme Court would set back the marriage equality movement.
AFER, which has won two rounds in its
legal battle to have California's gay marriage ban, Proposition 8,
declared unconstitutional, is now supporting Lambda Legal in its case
with a $25,000 contribution to the plaintiffs' legal fund.