Nevada group asks court to keep gay couples from marrying

CARSON CITY — A Nevada group seeking to preserve the state’s constitutional definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman filed its legal response Tuesday to a challenge by several same-sex couples who argue the definition should be struck down.

The Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, which successfully put the marriage definition into the state constitution with a favorable vote in 2002, said, “The man-woman meaning in marriage furthers Nevada’s vital interest in maximizing the number of children who are raised by their own two biological parents.”

In its brief filed with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the coalition’s attorneys said, “What marriage ought to be is a decision that must be left to democratic processes, especially when those processes are operating in a fair and open way and where genderless marriage proponents are effectively deploying very considerable political power.”

The group said that there is no right to a “genderless marriage regime” and that Nevada’s definition of marriage does not constitute sex discrimination.

The federal challenge to Nevada’s gay marriage ban was initiated by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund on behalf of eight same-sex couples.

The case, Sevcik v. Sandoval, was filed in U.S. District Court on April 10, 2012. But in November 2012, Judge Robert C. Jones upheld Nevada’s prohibition on same-sex marriage, finding that it does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment.

Lambda appealed the ruling to the 9th Circuit and was joined by other groups, including the ACLU of Nevada, in seeking to overturn the lower court decision.

“Marriage is not a right to be reserved for only select citizens, but a right that every loving couple in Nevada should be entitled to,” said ACLU of Nevada Executive Director Tod Story when the group’s amicus brief was filed in November.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900.