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October 31, 2014

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Couples sue to overturn Nevada gay marriage ban

Eight couples filed suit Tuesday to overturn Nevada’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The couples, represented by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc. in Los Angeles, which advocates for gay rights, filed suit in U.S. District Court for Nevada.

''Plaintiffs are eight loving, committed same-sex couples. They bring this action for the violation of their rights under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution caused by their being denied the right to marry in the state of Nevada. The state has instead relegated these couples to the inferior and novel status of registered domestic partnerships, and has disrespected the marriages some of them have entered in other jurisdictions, because they are lesbians and gay men in same-sex relationships,’’ the suit charges.

Lambda attorneys in the suit highlighted what they suggested was a contradiction in which the state’s Constitution limits marriage to couples composed of a male and a female, while at the same time the Legislature in 2009 created Nevada’s Domestic Partnership law.

That statute shows Nevada has a ''public policy recognizing that same-sex couples merit the same family, parenting and relationship rights and responsibilities as different-sex spouses,'' the lawsuit says.

The gay marriage ban in the state Constitution ''serves no purpose other than to impose a stigmatizing government label of inferiority upon lesbians and gay men and their relationships and denies plaintiffs equal treatment based on their sexual orientation and sex,'' the suit says.

Attorneys for the state have not yet responded to Tuesday’s lawsuit.

The plaintiffs are couples in Carson City, Las Vegas and Reno.

The defendants are Gov. Brian Sandoval and marriage officials Clark County Clerk Diana Alba, Washoe County Clerk Amy Harvey and Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Grover.

It’s unknown when the federal court will schedule hearings and act on the lawsuit, in which the couples seek a declaration that the provision in the Nevada Constitution spelling out who can get married violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The suit also challenges ''any other sources of state law that exclude same-sex couples from marrying and relegating them to only registered domestic partnership.''

Among the plaintiffs are couples who tried to get married in Nevada, but were denied because of their same-sex status; as well as couples who were married in other states but say they’ve faced discrimination since moving to Nevada.

For instance, the suit says, couple Fletcher Whitwell, 37, and Greg Flamer, 39, live in Las Vegas and last year adopted a baby girl, Hudson Whitwell.

''Fletcher and Greg share the typical responsibilities and joys of parenting a young child: they feed, bathe, and clothe her; they teach her to walk and to recognize different shapes and colors; they play peek-a-boo with her and take her to visit her grandparents; they care for her when she’s sick; they read her bedtime stories and rock her to sleep at night,'' the suit says.

''Fletcher and Greg wish to marry for their daughter’s sake as well as for their own. Fletcher and Greg worry that, as Hudson grows older, she will be deprived of a sense of normalcy and may feel socially outcast because she will absorb the message she receives from her government that her parents are not worthy of marriage. They hope that, one day, Hudson can walk down the aisle at their wedding as their flower girl and that she will understand that the love and commitment her parents feel for one another — and for their family — is as great as that felt by other couples who currently may marry,’’ the suit says.

Tuesday’s lawsuit comes after a federal appeals court in February struck down California’s voter-approved ban on gay marriages — a ruling potentially setting up a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the issue.

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  1. It is time for Nevada to come out of the closet and face reality. Look at the benefits.......All the additional money from certificates fees,liscense fees, parties, weddings,clothing,the wedding hall,receptions etc. plus just think of all the happy people flying & driving here the hotel rooms sniff sniff can you smell that it's money.But do the right thing and legalize marriage because two people are in love no matter what their sex,color,religion etc. is and it will benefit everyone directly & indirectly. All the old (regardless of age)fuddy duddies opposed to it can just go scream in their own room but the time has come for change.

  2. This is one area where the concept of separation of Church and State needs to be strictly adhered to.

    I would like to see the word "marriage" not even used in laws. Leave that to the private sector. Let churches and others decide who they will or will not perform a ceremony for and let the government worry only about the contract between two people.

    On a practical note, allowing same-sex couples to marry would be a boost to our economy on a number of fronts.

  3. Bob, besides the fact that you used a strawman argument, the only one of those you could possibly argue is the multiple couples one. The issue here, is any two adults should be allowed to marry if it does not infringe on the rights of any other person. That's why inbreeding is wrong, you're creating genetic issues for any children that could come of it. That's why you can't marry your daughter, that's why you can't marry your mom, that's why you can't marry the 13 year old. As for the 4 randoms in a bar, it's no different from people who do just meet in a bar and get married that same night.

  4. Same sex marriage is not permitted in the State of Nevada because the people of the state added that to the Constitution. Right or wrong it is there. What should really happen is that this same sex marriage issue should go before the supreme court and end it for once and for all.

  5. Society, and our government, has crystal clear and valid reasons for preventing people within a certain level of relation from marrying. We have crystal clear and valid reasons for not allowing people below a certain age from marrying. We have crystal clear and valid reasons for not allowing more than two people to enter into a marriage.

    Neither society nor our government, has any valid reason whatsoever, for barring two unrelated people of age from entering into a civil marriage.

    Oh, don't get me wrong, there are reasons. But none that are valid.

    The "comments" above make the writer come across as ignorant, mean-spirited, and medieval. One doesn't have to like what the Constitution says, but in this country, one sure has to abide by it. And the words are crystal clear: "no state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

    At the end of the day, every state (as well as the federal government) that currently bans unrelated same-sex couples of age from entering into a civil marriage, will be overturned. And on behalf of all Americans, even the bigots, even the narrow-minded, even the medieval cavemen among us, may I just say "Phew!". Another step closer to the first and foremost goal of our founders - to form a more perfect union.

  6. It will take abut 4 years to change the state constitution if the effort started today. I would much rather see a case reach SCOTUS and have them strike down every law and state constitution in the country that prohibits this. I think it will be faster.

    I have never heard any rational argument to prohibit this. The only arguments I hear are based on religious principles. Anything that is moral should be so without religious underpinnings.

  7. If it doesn't involve children or violence, I don't care what gets you thru the night. Since each American is entitled to various freedoms including the right to pursue happiness and their individual religious beliefs, any ban sounds unconstitutional since "marriage" is federally sanctioned and gives married couples tax deductions.

  8. "Lambda attorneys in the suit highlighted what they suggested was a contradiction in which the state's Constitution limits marriage to couples composed of a male and a female, while at the same time the Legislature in 2009 created Nevada's Domestic Partnership law."

    Lambda's attorneys missed the point. Should have said "while at the same time the state's Constitution proclaims 'All men are by Nature free and equal and have certain inalienable rights among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; Acquiring, Possessing and Protecting property and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness[.]" It highlights the inherent conflict with Nevada's foundation expressed in Article 1.

    "I would like to see the word "marriage" not even used in laws."

    boftx -- I'd take it to the next level and just wipe all marriage laws off the books. Problem solved.

    "The issue here, is any two adults should be allowed to marry if it does not infringe on the rights of any other person."

    AbsurdQ -- you almost got it right, just delete "two" and change "allowed" to "free."

    "We have crystal clear and valid reasons for not allowing people below a certain age from marrying. We have crystal clear and valid reasons for not allowing more than two people to enter into a marriage."

    abostonboy -- and those "crystal clear and valid reasons" would be what? Good closing line, by the way

    "If it doesn't involve children or violence, I don't care what gets you thru the night."

    Roslenda -- funny how what you mentioned in the first sentence is what some religions define as marriage. Like female circumcision, etc. Barbaric.

    The state should not be in the marriage business at all. It's the ultimate mockery to require licensing for what to most of us is the most important commitment we'll ever experience.

    "Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual." -- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Isaac H Tiffany (1819)

  9. "Everyone knows the Mormon church funded and created the Prop 8 controversy. If they're so hot for marriage to be defined as "one man and one woman" then why haven't they gone after all of the fundalmentalist groups within their own church?"

    sporty -- I doubt the LDS church "created the Prop 8 controversy." Helped fund it, yes, but not entirely. The polygamists aren't part of the church, they're breakaway sects. Anyone who practices polygamy as LDS are excommunicated.

    "I thank these brave folks for stepping forward for the rest of us gays and lesbians to challenge the Nevada law. Filing for Domestic Partnership and picking up our papers was so incomplete, unsatisfying and bureaucratic."

    777s -- although I'll defend your equal rights to marriage, I think you missed the bigger point, which is the fallacy of licensing marriages. Since the bigger part of justifying marriages are to create marital estates and inheritance, domestic partnership laws have always been part of the common law. You can accomplish most of all that without involving public authorities with trusts and durable powers of attorney. The family rights part of it is problematic. Since same-sex relationships can't have their own children they have to take them from others. It's the only part of the whole thing I have a problem with.

    Back to Jefferson ....

  10. The "marriage capital of the world", Las Vegas, where two complete strangers, a man and a woman, can share a few drinks at the bar in the casino I work at, walk across the street to the courthouse and "marry". Of course, these folks who barely know each other will now be eligable for all 1000 rights and priviliges that marriage will give to them. Robert and I, partnered for 18 years and LEGALLY MARRIED FOR 8 YEARS in British Columbia, will always be grateful to Canada for treating us with the dignity and respect that two people who care for and love each other deserve. Our Canadian marriage will never be taken away from us and we hope to see our marriage recognized in our home, the good ol' U.S.A.!

  11. Bob: Sounds more like you're in lust with your genetic pool. Your family's reunions must be a hoot!
    P.s. Don't forget your floaties.

  12. Whether gay folks make up 1%, 2%, or 14% of our population has NO power in the arguments regarding marriage equality! Ever hear the phrase "tyranny of the majority" (or "tyranny of the masses")? It is used in discussing systems of democracy and majority rule, and envisions a scenario in which decisions made by a majority place its interests so far above those of an individual or minority group as to constitute active oppression against any socially disadvantaged group. You may not like gay couples. You may despise us. But what you may NEVER do is walk into a sacred American voting booth and strip us of our dignity, our humanity, and our civil rights.

  13. "You may despise us. But what you may NEVER do is walk into a sacred American voting booth and strip us of our dignity, our humanity, and our civil rights."

    howdydostu -- actually people can vote however they want, and voting booths are just tools, hardly sacred. That's why we have a republic, not a democracy. The problem is government's reluctance to obey the Constitution giving it life.

    Look at the history of the race among us who went from slaves to freemen -- the post-Civil War Reconstructionist 13th & 14th Amendments were enacted in the late 19th century. Yet it took a long, bloody civil rights struggle and an enlightened president (JFK) to get government to respect their status some 80 years later! And every minute of those long years government and its actors at every level -- from the president to the street cop -- promised with their oaths to respect and obey those Amendments. Especially the charge to not deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor to deny any person the equal protection of the laws. Yet they did. And as all consenting adults seeking the blessings of freedom through marriage has discovered, government is the tool of the oppressors, not the guardian of our freedoms.

    "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." -- attributed to Seneca the Younger (executed by Nero in 65 A.C.E.)

  14. lefties enjoy waving the flag and proclaiming one for all and all for one. Rights for everyone and everything. We abide by the rules of the laws set up by those who vote...

    They hate when the vote turns against them and their ideas. Than the rest of the state/country need to change the way they think. Being open to other thoughts is for everyone BUT them.

    Just like their Mesiaha,"Its our way or no way" but we will call it bipartisan...

    we vote for laws, rules and regulations and the left likes to sue when that vote goes against their agenda..

  15. My friend killerB, I appreciate the intellect and knowledge you bring to the conversation. But I would say that men and women have died for our right to vote. Yes we are a Republic. We are also a quasi-democracy. The American experiment of direct voting and the blood shed so that we may have the right to vote is what makes our voting booths more than just a tool. For that reason it is, to me, sacred. And the fact that people can deny Robert and I our access to the same rights and responsibilities of marriage, when we ARE legally married is just a perversion of our democracy and a slap in the face to ideals of our republic, life, liberty, and the persuit of happiness. People who don't even know Robert and I, for whatever reasons they may have, took our partnership of 18 years and made us second class, to no benefit to themselves and their one, two, three marriages, or more.

  16. Mr. Anthony -

    If "lefties" lost a vote on an issue that is appropriately voted on, they would react in precisely the same way the "righties" (isn't THAT an oxymoron!) would react. I don't know what that reaction would be, but it would be no different that anyone else's.

    The problem with your comment is that you presume any and everything can be "appropriately" voted on. You are incorrect.

    The people of Nevada voted on whether our state's marriage laws should apply to same-sex couples. They voted "no". The rights enshrined in the US Constitution cannot be "appropriately" voted on. And one of the most important rights is that our laws must apply equally to every citizen. The marriage licensing statutes in Nevada do not apply equally to every citizen. That's what the lawsuit is about.

    Again, the rights of one person or group of people can never be "appropriately" put to a vote. For example, people with the last name of "Anthony" are in the minority, compared with those whose last name is not Anthony. Would it be appropriate to put your rights up for a vote? I think not. Why is it any more appopriate to put my rights up for a vote?