The Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, a non-profit corporation in Nevada which opposes same-sex marriage, petitioned [text, PDF] the US Supreme Court on Wednesday to grant a writ of certiorari to determine "whether the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause requires Nevada to change its definition of marriage from the union of a man and a woman to the union of two persons." In 2002 Nevada voters approved an amendment to the state constitution [text] to add: "Only a marriage between a male and female person shall be recognized and given effect in this state." The respondents, eight same-sex couples seeking to marry or have their foreign marriages recognized, initiated a civil action claiming that the amendment deprived them of equal protection of the laws [Cornell LII backgrounder] in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment [text]. Their lawsuit, Sevcik v. Sandoval [opinion], was dismissed [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the District of Nevada [official website], and this petition was filed before the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] could consider the merits of the case.
Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is a contentious issue across the US, with several other cases currently pending before the Supreme Court. The court is expected to consider ten petitions dealing with the issue at its conference Friday. Eight of the petitions have to do with Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [JURIST news archive], which defines marriage as between a man and a woman for federal purposes. One has to do with Proposition 8 [JURIST news archive], California's same-sex marriage ban, and the last case has to do with an Arizona law [JURIST report] regarding benefits for the spouses of state employees.