Senators in Nevada have overridden Governor Jim Gibbons' veto of a domestic partnership bill, the Las Vegas Sun reported Sunday.

Senators agreed 14 to 7 Saturday on the controversial bill that offers gay and straight couples limited guaranteed benefits associate with marriage, including matters such as community property and responsibility for debt. Private business would not be required to provide benefits such as health care to the domestic partner of an employee. But many employers do voluntarily provide such benefits to domestic partners.

“The only way for our state to treat its citizens is as equals under the law,” Jan Gilbert, a lobbyist for the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, a group in favor of the bill, said in a statement. “This was a resounding rejection of the governor's intolerance and it is wonderful to have something to celebrate.”

Gambling and tourism leaders, including gambling giant Harrah's Entertainment, had mounted a lobbying campaign in support of the bill, saying a boycott of the state by gay and lesbian groups could devastate the state's economy, especially in tourism dependent Las Vegas.

The Senate vote was as tight as it gets with the bill's openly gay sponsor, Senator David Parks, a Democrat from Las Vegas, pulling out a win with not a vote to spare. Only 12 senators voted in favor of the original bill.

Two Republican senators, Dean Rhoads of Tuscarora and Dennis Nolan of Las Vegas, changed their minds on the legislation.

Nolan said he received many “ugly, vulgar and threatening messages” from opponents of the bill.

Critics of the bill argue that such unions are too similar to marriage and go against the will of Nevada voters who approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in 2002.

“We are saying to our citizens their votes do not matter,” state Senator Maurice Washington, a Republican from Sparks and a minister, said. “This bill is a slap in the face against the people of this great state.”

Parks disagreed: “[The domestic partnership bill] does not threaten the sanctity of marriage. SB283 does not circumvent the will of the people because Question 2 made no mention of partnerships or of denying people's rights and privileges if they are in committed relationships.”

A poll released last week by the Las Vegas Review-Journal showed half of all Nevadans surveyed opposed domestic partnerships for both gay and straight couples. A large majority (71%) of Republicans oppose such unions. The paper's conclusions run counter to nationwide polling that finds that a large majority (67%) of Americans agree that gay and lesbian couples deserve to have their unions recognized either by marriage, civil union or domestic partnership, according to a recent CBS News/Washington Post poll.

Assemblymembers now get to decide if they will join in the override. The chamber's original 26 to 14 approval falls short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the governor's veto by two votes. Two members – one Republican, one Democrat – were absent during the original vote, but neither appear supportive of the bill.