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Eight couples challenge Nevada's ban on gay marriage

Lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal in federal court comes after success in California
Beverly_Sevcik and Mary_Baranovich
Photo: Lambda Legal

Lambda Legal has filed a federal lawsuit in Nevada on behalf of eight same-sex couples challenging Nevada’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday (10 April) in the U.S. District Court for Nevada, argues that the state's constitutional amendment barring same-sex couples from marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

'Every day that same-sex couples in Nevada are denied marriage equality, the government sends a message that their families are not worthy of equal dignity and respect,’ Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Tara Borelli said.

The lead plaintiffs, Beverly Sevcik, 73, and Mary Baranovich, 76, of Carson City, have been together for nearly 41 years and committed their lives to each other in October, 1971. Together, the couple (pictured) raised three children, and they are now proud grandmothers of four grandchildren.

'We’ve been together for almost 41 years. 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.'

The other plaintiffs in the case are: Antioco Carrillo and Theo Small of Las Vegas, who have been together since 2006; Fletcher Whitwell and Greg Flamer of Las Vegas, who have been together for 14 years and adopted a baby girl last year; Karen Goody and Karen Vibe of Reno, who have been engaged since 2005; Mikyla and Katie Miller of Reno, who are expecting a baby girl in July; Adele Terranova and Tara Newberry of Las Vegas, who are raising two children; Caren and Farrell Cafferata-Jenkins of Carson City, who have been together for 15 years and are raising two sons; and Megan Lanz and Sara Geiger of Las Vegas, who have been together since 2004 and have a daughter.

This lawsuit comes two months after the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the historic August 2010 decision of the Federal District Court that found California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the sole sponsor of Perry v. Brown, the federal constitutional challenge to Proposition 8, expressed its strong support for the Nevada lawsuit.

'This case, like our challenge to Proposition 8, is about two things: marriage and equality,' said AFER attorney Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr. 'Our Constitution guarantees all Americans the right to marry and the right to be treated with equal dignity and respect under the law. The Perry case and the new case in Nevada are important steps in securing this fundamental freedom. We look forward to supporting the Plaintiffs in the Sevcik case in every way possible.'

AFER on Tuesday announced a contribution of $25,000 to the Plaintiffs’ legal fund in support of the Nevada federal lawsuit.

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