The Freedom to Marry in Nevada

Winning Marriage: October 9, 2014

Same-sex couples began marrying in Nevada on October 9, 2014 after the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in a federal legal case challenging the state’s anti-marriage laws. The 9th Circuit ruling followed the United States Supreme Court’s October 6, 2014 decision to deny review of pro-marriage orders from three other federal appellate courts.

History and the Path to Victory:

  • November 5, 2002: Opponents of the freedom to marry in Nevada push through Question 2, a constitutional amendment denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry and any other legal family status. The amendment cements clearly discriminatory language into the Nevada Constitution.
  • 2003-2009: As Americans nationwide engage in conversations about why marriage matters, national and local advocates in Nevada take strides toward increasing understanding of same-sex couples and their families.
  • May 30, 2009: The Nevada Legislature overrides Governor Jim Gibbons' veto of Nevada’s recognition of domestic partnerships, ensuring that the state grants some of the legal protections and responsibilities – but none of the respect or federal recognition – of marriage.
  • April 10, 2012: Lambda Legal files a federal legal case on behalf of same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry in Nevada, Sevcik v. Sandoval. Read the initial complaint here – and meet the plaintiffs here.
  • November 29, 2012: Judge Robert C. Jones rules against Nevada’s same-sex couples in Sevcik v. Sandoval. Read the ruling here. Lambda Legal appeals immediately to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • May 23, 2013: The Nevada Legislature votes in favor of a measure that begins the multi-year process of amending the Nevada constitution to guarantee the freedom to marry to same-sex couples.
  • September 29, 2013: Polling in Nevada tracks majority support for the freedom to marry by amending the Nevada constitution, reflecting the power of the national discussion of why marriage matters.
  • February 13, 2014: Freedom Nevada, the campaign to secure the freedom to marry in Nevada, launches a robust public education effort in the Silver State.
  • October 7, 2014: The 9th Circuit reverses the decision of the district court, deciding in favor of the freedom to marry. The Court orders the district court to issue an injunction prohibiting Nevada from enforcing its constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples begin to marry soon after, on October 9. Read the 9th Circuit ruling.
  • June 26, 2015: The United States Supreme Court rules in favor of the freedom to marry, ending marriage discrimination across the country.

Groups That Actively Worked on Marriage

Audio from the 9th Circuit Hearing on Nevada's Marriage Ban