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Sevcik plaintiffs file reply with Ninth Circuit regarding parallel scheduling with Jackson

Lambda Legal and the plaintiffs in the Sevcik v. Sandoval case challenging Nevada’s marriage laws file a brief with the Ninth Circuit responding to Hawaii Family Forum’s opposition to a parallel briefing schedule for Sevcik and the Hawaii marriage equality case Jackson v. Abercrombie.  HFF had earlier argued against a parallel schedule, writing that Jackson could be postponed pending Supreme Court action in the Prop 8 case.  The Sevcik case, they argued, presents distinct constitutional arguments from the Prop 8 case and would therefore be less likely to be stayed pending the Court’s consideration of Prop 8’s constitutionality.

In its brief, Lambda Legal refuted HFF’s argument that the Sevcik case presents the question of whether any state ban on marriage equality is constitutional and told the circuit court that Sevcik instead focuses only on the specific facts surrounding Nevada’s laws, writing, “As Plaintiffs-Appellants have consistently expressed in briefing below, this case ‘asks a specific, limited question: whether, as a matter of equal protection, [a state] further[s] any legitimate government interest by denying same-sex couples access to civil marriage, when [the state] recognizes that their families are worthy of the same rights and responsibilities as spouses through registered domestic partnership.'”

Furthermore, Lambda Legal writes, HFF is incorrect in distinguishing Sevcik from Jackson and the Prop 8 case (technically called Hollingsworth v. Perry), all of which present similar constitutional questions:

“Across all these cases, one or more parties have raised the following common issues: (1) the effect, if any, of Baker v. Nelson, 409 U.S. 810 (1972), a summary dismissal of claims by a same-sex couple seeking to marry in Minnesota forty years ago; (2) the standard of review applicable to government classifications based on sexual orientation; and (3) if rational basis applies to such classifications, how excluding same-sex couples in particular circumstances from either marriage itself (in PerryJackson, or here) or from federal recognition of valid marriages (in Windsor) is rationally related to a legitimate government interest.”

For the reasons laid out in its brief, Lambda Legal and the Sevcik plaintiffs ask the Ninth Circuit to dismiss HFF’s opposition to the parallel briefing schedule and allow Sevcik and Jackson to be briefed together and decided concurrently by the same 3-judge panel.

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