RENO, NEVADA – On Friday, U.S. District Chief Judge Robert C. Jones announced that he will hear arguments on November 26 in the legal challenge against Nevada’s prohibition of same-sex marriage.
Jones, appointed to the federal bench for the District of Nevada by President George W. Bush, said he wants to move quickly to decide the case, which was filed by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund against Nevada governor Brian Sandoval and other officials. “It makes sense to get this decided, and off with the circus train,” Jones said.
In 2009, Nevada lawmakers approved a domestic partnership law. The case, Sevcik v. Sandoval, is a challenge against a Nevada state constitution gay marriage ban that voters approved in 2002. The suit is the first to make a direct state marriage equality claim in federal court, alleging that the 2002 amendment violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. It claims that same-sex couples in Nevada are denied rights enjoyed by other married couples.
“By not allowing them to marry, the state brands these loving couples and their children as second-class citizens,” said Lambda Legal attorney Tara Borelli.
The lawsuit accuses the state of establishing a “selective bar to access to marriage” with the 2009 domestic partnership law that passed over a veto by then-Gov. Jim Gibbons, a Republican. And it maintains that same-sex couples are still discriminated against by hospital officials and police officers who question their relationship status because they aren’t legally recognized as spouses.