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Clark County Settles Lawsuit With Universal Life Church

June 30th, 2022

ULC Court Cases: Clark County
The Clark County lawsuit was recently settled in the Universal Life Church’s favor, so now ULC ministers can operate fully in the area.

This past February, Clark County, Nevada finally agreed to settle a lawsuit that the Universal Life Church brought against it back in 2016 over discriminatory treatment of its ministers in the area. As Universal Life Church (ULC) ministers in the area were likely aware, Clark County and County Clerk Lynn Goya instituted a series of rule changes back in 2016 that effectively prohibited ULC ministers from legally solemnizing marriages in the area, which includes Las Vegas. We are pleased to announce that this unfortunate chapter has finally come to an end.

Clark County Institutes Rule Changes for Ministers

Back in 2016, newly elected Clark County Clerk Lynn Goya instituted new requirements regarding which religious organizations were allowed to solemnize marriages in the county. The new requirements gave preference to “traditional” brick-and-mortar churches within Nevada, as well as churches that had obtained tax-exempt status with the IRS. Any church that did not satisfy the requirements would be limited in the number of weddings its members could perform in a given year. Ministers of such churches would also have to register for each ceremony they wanted to perform.

Clark County Shifts the Goal Posts

After the Universal Life Church provided all of the documentation in order to be put on the list of approved churches, Clark County then shifted the goalposts and requested additional documentation. Despite providing ample evidence that the ULC was, in fact, a church licensed to do business in Nevada, Clark County continued to refuse its entry onto their list. Due to these actions, the ULC filed a lawsuit against the county. The ULC found the actions impermissible and expressly prohibited under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as well as under the Nevada Constitution.

Resolution of the Lawsuit

After nearly 6 years since the initial rule changes, and well after those changes were no longer in effect, Clark County finally agreed to settle the lawsuit with the Universal Life Church. The county put out a statement announcing the resolution and thanking Universal Life Church ministers for officiating marriages within the county, saying “the resolution of this dispute reflects our community’s sincere commitment to inclusivity.”

The ULC is grateful to its many ministers in the area for their emotional and financial support throughout this ordeal, and looks forward to future successes in Tennessee and beyond. The favorable outcome of this case greatly furthers one of the core tenets of the ULC: that every individual is free to practice their religion in the manner of their choosing, as mandated by the First Amendment, so long as that expression does not impinge upon the rights or freedoms of others and is in accordance with the government’s laws.

The Goal of the Universal Life Church’s Blog

The Universal Life Church’s blog focuses on documenting the most noteworthy developments in the fight for freedom of expression and belief. While these issues are often complex, we strive to explain matters in a way that can easily be understood by readers.

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