The Nevada Senate on Monday approved a
proposed constitutional amendment which seeks to legalize gay
marriage in the state.
Senators voted 12-9 in favor of the
measure after roughly 90 minutes of debate. One Republican, Senator
Ben Kieckhefer, crossed the aisle to join all Democrats in voting for
Senator Tick Segerblom's joint
resolution (SJR 13) originally sought only to remove from the Nevada
constitution the state's definition of marriage approved by voters in
2002 which states, “Only a marriage between a male and female
person shall be recognized and given effect in this state.” But a
last-minute amendment adopted earlier this month at the committee
phase added that the state “shall recognize marriages and issue
marriage licenses, regardless of gender.”
“We felt it would be cleaner to both
eliminate the current prohibition and make it clear Nevada does not
discriminate in any way,” Segerblom said.
Several senators opposed to the bill
said they could have supported the original resolution that simply
repealed the language approved by voters in 2002.
“When the sponsor of the bill from
Senate district 3 [Segerblom] came to me with this issue to begin
with, I told him that I was actually in favor of taking it out of the
constitution, because I firmly believe that the discussion of
marriage does not belong in our constitution,” Senator James
Settelmeyer, a Republican from Minden, told colleagues. “I do not
approve of the concept of having the discussion of marriage within
our constitution. To me it's not the proper place, it should just be
Senator David Parks, a Democrat from
Las Vegas and the chamber's first openly gay member, pointed out to
colleagues that not all religions are apposed to gay nuptials.
“Nearly all of the arguments against
gay marriage are based on religious beliefs, but many religious
leaders are in support of marriage equality,” Parks said.
Senator Justin Jones, a Democrat from
Las Vegas, said he was voting for the measure to support his gay
Senator Kelvin Atkinson comes out gay during gay marriage debate.)
The resolution needs the approval of
two separately elected Legislatures, making 2016 the earliest it
could reach the voters.
Nevada currently recognizes gay and
lesbian couples with domestic partnerships. As of April 1, 4,157
couples have entered the union, though some are of the opposite sex.