Attorneys for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund said the Nevada statute violates the couples' rights under the 14th Amendment, the Las Vegas Sun reported.
The suit alleges that by allowing domestic partnerships but prohibiting gay marriage Nevada has relegated same-sex couples to an inferior status and disrespects marriages entered into in other jurisdictions.
Further, the suit says Nevada's gay marriage ban "serves no purpose other than to impose a stigmatizing government label of inferiority upon lesbians and gay men in their relationships and denies equal treatment based on their sexual orientation and sex."
The action names as defendants Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and marriage officials in Carson City, Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada.
It is not known at this time when the federal court will schedule hearings on the suit.