Gay Marriage | Nevada | News

Federal Judge: Nevada Can Bar Gay Couples from Marrying

In a ruling in Sevcik v. Sandoval made public late yesterday, Judge Robert C. Jones, a George W. Bush appointee, found Nevada's laws limiting marriage to two people of the opposite sex are Constitutional. Among Jones's reasons for the ruling are that gay people are not able to procreate, they are not a politically powerless class, and that gay people having the freedom to marry would actually scare straight couples from entering the institution.

Read the full ruling, AFTER THE JUMP...

Robertc_jonesWrites Buzzfeed's Chris Geidner:

Jones ruled that prior Supreme Court precedent—a 1972 case, Baker v. Nelson, that denied a same-sex couple's marriage claim as lacking any "substantial federal question"—controlled his decision. Even if not, he ruled that the "exclusion of same-sex couples from the institution of civil marriage" was constitutional "[b]ecause the maintenance of the traditional institution of civil marriage as between one man and one woman is a legitimate state interest."

In reaching his decision, Jones found that a classification like Nevada's marriage law, which distinguishes between heterosexual and homosexual people (his analysis did not address bisexuality), should not be viewed with additional scrutiny, as are laws that distinguish based on sex or race. The analysis, made as part of challenges claiming a violation of the Constitution's equal protection guarantees, asks whether the group claiming discrimination under the law has experienced a history of discrimination and continues to face levels of political powerlessness.

NevadaWrites Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade:

Among the reasons why Jones, a Mormon who attended Brigham Young University, finds gay couples lack a constitutional right to marry is a rational basis for the government to preclude couples who can’t bear children from marrying:

“Human beings are created through the conjugation of one man and one woman. The percentage of human beings conceived through non-traditional methods is minuscule and adoption, the form of child-rearing in which same-sex couples may typically participate together, is not an alternative means of creating children, but rather a social backstop for when traditional biological families fail. The perpetuation of the human race depends upon traditional procreation between men and women. The institution developed in our society, its predecessor societies, and by nearly all societies on Earth throughout history to solidify, standardize, and legalize the relationship between a man, a woman, and their offspring, is civil marriage between one man and one woman.”

Moreover, Jones determines that straight couples may be disinclined to marry if same-sex couples were allowed to enter into the same institution, which would result in additional societal problems:

“Should that institution be expanded to include same-sex couples with the state’s imprimatur, it is conceivable that a meaningful percentage of heterosexual persons would cease to value the civil institution as highly as they previously had and hence enter into it less frequently, opting for purely private ceremonies, if any, whether religious or secular, but in any case without civil sanction, because they no longer wish to be associated with the civil institution as redefined, leading to an increased percentage of out-of-wedlock children, single-parent families, difficulties in property disputes after the dissolution of what amount to common law marriages in a state where such marriages are not recognized, or other unforeseen consequences.”

LambdalegalLambda Legal Staff Attorney Tara Borelli issued the following statement:

"This is not the end of this fight. We will appeal and continue to fight for these loving couples, who are harmed by Nevada's law barring marriage for same-sex couples. By forbidding same-sex couples' access to marriage, the State brands them and their children as second-class citizens. This entire decision rests on the ridiculous premise that a 'meaningful percentage of heterosexual persons' will decide not to get married if same-sex couples can. Not only is this not true, but it is settled law that the government is not allowed to cater to private biases -- which is all that imagining that 'some couples won't join this club if those people are admitted' amounts to. We are confident this ruling will be overturned on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals."

The lead plaintiffs in the case are Beverly Sevcik, 74, and Mary Baranovich, 76, of Carson City, who have been together for nearly 41 years, raising three children and now the proud grandmothers of four grandchildren.  The other plaintiffs 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 together; Karen Goody and Karen Vibe of Reno, who have been engaged since 2005; Mikyla and Katie Miller of Reno, parents of a newborn baby girl; 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 2005 and have a daughter.

Read the full ruling, AFTER THE JUMP...


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  1. What's sad is that Robert C. Jones rejects honest, legal analysis to reach a decision based solely on his own personal biases and indoctrination. That's not what we learned to do in law school. His opinion is hog wash. It will be reversed.

    Posted by: dattexas | Nov 30, 2012 8:19:17 AM

  2. Oh how nice. Another Christianist bigot decides through faulty, disproved logic, that since LGBT people can't procreate (ignoring that they can) therefore should not be allowed to marry. Then, there should be a fertility test for every heterosexual couple that apply for a marriage license. Also, all of those past child-bearing age should be banned from getting married, because marriage is ONLY about procreating. After marriage every couple must procreate or risk invalidation of their marriage. Stupid. I didn't go to law school, but even I can see how ridiculous this idiot's decision is. He should be removed from the judges bench and disbarred for such stupidity.

    Posted by: Brad | Nov 30, 2012 8:24:32 AM

  3. Surprise, surprise. It had to be a Mormon federal judge to make this ruling. So, onward marriage equality soldiers and march your appeal of this ridiculous ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court.

    Posted by: HadenoughBS | Nov 30, 2012 8:26:16 AM

  4. Legalized prostitution (something I personally support) is fine but same-sex marriage? NO WAY!

    Posted by: Gigi | Nov 30, 2012 8:27:14 AM

  5. Just, WOW...

    Posted by: WayneMPLS | Nov 30, 2012 8:40:20 AM

  6. The procreation argument was also used successfully in Arizona. The Attorney General, a Democrat, used it expecting that it would not work. But the Supreme Court here agreed- just ridiculous.

    Posted by: homer | Nov 30, 2012 8:57:00 AM

  7. I am always amused when LDS talk of traditional marriage as one man and one woman.

    Posted by: Diogenes Arktos | Nov 30, 2012 9:15:16 AM

  8. I am always amused when LDS talk of traditional marriage as one man and one woman.

    Posted by: Diogenes Arktos | Nov 30, 2012 9:15:54 AM

  9. Look on the bright side. If Romney had won this pr*ck probably would have ended up on the Supreme Court. My personal experience with Mormons is that once established they start hiring and promoting more of their own, whether they're qualified or not. Talk about "anchor babies"! That's what makes the mandatory tithe worth it.

    Posted by: Caliban | Nov 30, 2012 9:30:02 AM

  10. The fight has moved beyond this particular judge and he knows it. What SCOTUS will have to say in the coming days & months is what's important.

    Posted by: Dearcomrade | Nov 30, 2012 9:47:19 AM

  11. In a way, this is a good thing. Because this ruling is SO clearly and obviously biased, these arguments that have been made here to deny equality can be trashed accordingly and categorically on appeal.

    But now we know exactly what would have happened, as Caliban said, if Romney won election. People like this would be on the Supreme Court. And they would tangle themselves in a knot to justify discrimination against us.

    Posted by: Francis | Nov 30, 2012 9:48:24 AM

  12. He is a Mormon Judge, thank Heavenly Father we did not get a Mormon president, they would be rounding up gays for the prison camps now.

    Posted by: Mike | Nov 30, 2012 9:58:24 AM

  13. It's a shame that public money is wasted on a hearing and a decision that will certainly be overturned on appeal.

    Posted by: SMD | Nov 30, 2012 10:43:32 AM

  14. I should think the more recent ruling by the ninth circuit would have precedent over this case, though it was a ruling supposedly limited to CA. In that ruling, the ninth held that Prop 8 violated equal protection under the law by denying a right previously granted to a minority group (CASC ruling that gays have a right to marry under the CA constitution prior to Prop 8) solely out of animus. In NV the right wasn't taken away since it never existed in the first place, but one could rule that the amendment itself was enacted out of animus and knock it down without granting any further rights. That's probably the best we can hope for under a review by the ninth during the appeals process.

    Posted by: anon | Nov 30, 2012 11:24:55 AM

  15. I deliberately read the opinion without looking up Chief Judge Jones first -- but it clearly read as one written by a Mormon. Not just LDS, but a former Bishop (like MIttens). Legalistically, he applies a "conceivable rational basis" test. The actual test is "REASONABLY conceivable BASIS IN FACT" (my emphasis). His speculation that straights won't marry if lesbians and gays can is ludicrous and lacking any reasonable basis in fact. Last, but not least, his constant use of the word "homosexual" both as a noun and as a non-science adjective speaks volumes about his lack of contact with LGBTs (let alone his description of my sexual orientation as my "sexual preferences and practices.") It has been a decade or more since anyone in authority called me a "homosexual person" or called my orientation a "preference." Since he uses such archaic and condescending language in a published judicial opinion, one can only wonder if he refers to President Obama in private as a "mulatto."

    Posted by: John | Nov 30, 2012 11:31:13 AM

  16. at this point "educated at Brigham Young" might as well be "was homeschooled by his senile Grandmother"

    this man being a judge is an insult and embarrassment to the American judicial system.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Nov 30, 2012 11:56:51 AM

  17. Does anybody else think that this opinion is written directly to raise appealable questions of law? It looks to me like it is done on purpose--to place before the SCOTUS the issue of any and all discrimination against LGBT person as violative of Equal Protection, etc.

    Posted by: cfox | Nov 30, 2012 12:45:42 PM

  18. Gays getting married would scare off straights from getting married ? WHAT ?!

    Once again I hope all you GRUBS (Gay Republicans) are taking notice - a REPUBLICAN appointed Judge by a REPUBLICAN President is taking away your rights !

    This idiot needs to be fired. He can't just issue something as stupid as this without any PROOF that it would happen. This has to be illegal ?

    Posted by: Icebloo | Nov 30, 2012 1:32:54 PM

  19. Mormons believe they will suffer eternal torture if they defy church teaching. And since they believe the alleged laws of God are above the laws of the people, they can't be relied upon to apply the law when it conflicts with church doctrine. Not to mention the fact that you can't expect someone to reach rational conclusions when he believes in invisible sky fairies and magic underwear. Mormons are positively incompetent to serve as judges and should be categorically barred from the bench.

    Posted by: JJ | Nov 30, 2012 3:36:42 PM

  20. So who the hell appointed this irrational, bigoted and lying jackass to a federal court. Bias should be this mthrfckr's first, middle and last name. **swhipe.

    Posted by: Tothepoint | Nov 30, 2012 3:52:57 PM

  21. So a man and a woman, married or not, can f*&k and make a child but not raise it—and that's what needs protection?

    Posted by: David R. | Nov 30, 2012 4:11:00 PM

  22. Mormons need to be banned from participating in all civic duties on the local, state and federal level since they are unable to put aside their insane religious beliefs.

    Posted by: Robert | Nov 30, 2012 4:18:35 PM

  23. So he wants to keep the status quo because gay people are not able to procreate and they are not a politically powerless class? Why are straight people allowed to marry in Nevada? Because heterophobia doesn't scare gay people from entering the institution of marriage? This judge is, without a doubt, a moron. He might have had a point about not procreating if it weren't a false claim. Gay people may not be able to naturally have children, but the science is here to allow any two people to have a biological child. Beside, by his logic, doesn't he need to nullify all marriages between straight couples that cannot procreate, and possibly even the people that don't want to?

    Posted by: Garst | Nov 30, 2012 10:12:30 PM

  24. "The perpetuation of the human race depends upon traditional procreation between men and women."

    Hey buddy: humans aren't going to stop popping out kids because gays can get married. Birth rates aren't going to plummet. If anything, this will mean more loving, stable homes for kids to be adopted into. You know "the social backstop for when traditional biological families fail" as you put it. The ones that come from HETEROSEXUAL failures.

    Posted by: BETTY | Nov 30, 2012 10:32:14 PM

  25. I'm surprised no one else commented on the fact that he took as his basis a 1972 decision which decided ther was no "substatinal federal question" regarding marriage equality. If anything has been learned in the intervening years it is the number of federal benefits gay couples are denied.

    @CFox: If he did anything of value for the LGBT side, it was pure oversight on his part.
    @ToThePoint: W

    Posted by: Diogenes Arktos | Dec 1, 2012 3:27:28 AM

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