Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Suit Challenges Nevada Law Limiting Marriage Officiants To Clergy Or Government Officials

Yesterday's Las Vegas Sun reports that the ACLU of Nevada has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the state of Nevada and Clark County (NV) challenging the constitutionality of the state law that limits the issuance of state certificates to perform marriages to clergy, judges and commissioners and deputy commissioners of civil marriage.  The lawsuit argues that requiring private individuals to have a religious affiliation in order to perform marriage ceremonies, as is now required, violates the Establishment Clause, the Equal Protection Clause and the No-Religious Test clause of the U.S. constitution, as well as the Nevada constitution. One of the plaintiffs, Raul Martinez-- an atheist and member of the American Humanist Association-- has twice had his application for a "Permanent Certificate of Authority to Solemnize Marriages" turned down. Two other of the plaintiffs are a couple engaged to be married seeking to have a secular ceremony in a romantic location of their choosing.

UPDATE: Here is the full text of the complaint in Martinez v. Clark County, Nevada, (D NV, filed 3/27/2011), and a report on the case from Courthouse News Service.