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Nevada Senate Approves Repeal of State Marriage Ban as Senator Comes Out During Debate

Jim Burroway

April 23rd, 2013

Late last night, the Nevada Senate voted 12-9 to approve Senate Joint Resolution 13, which would repeal the state’s constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman, and replace it with a provision requiring the recognition of all marriages between two people “regardless of gender.” One Republican, Sen. Ben Kieckhefer (R-Carson City), joined eleven Democrats to support the measure, which marks the first time a state legislative house voted to repeal a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

The vote came after more than an hour’s debate which saw Catholic marriage equality supporter Sen. Ruben Kihuen (D-South-central Las Vegas)) say that he would support marriage equality even though “I don’t know if I’ll be allowed in church on Sunday.” Mormon marriage equality supporter Sen. Justin Jones (D-Southwest Las Vegas) cited his gay brother-in-law, who he sees in church every Sunday. “I would rather lose an election than look my brother-in-law in the eye every Sunday and tell him he doesn’t have the same rights as I do,” he said.  But the most dramatic moment came when  Sen. Kelvin Atkinson (D-North Las Vegas) declared publicly for the first time that he was gay:

“I’m black. I’m gay,” Atkinson said in a trembling voice after describing his father’s interracial re-marriage that would have been banned earlier in American history. “I know this is the first time many of you have heard me say that I am a black, gay male.”

Atkinson went on to rebut the argument that gay marriage threatens any other definition of marriage.

“If this hurts your marriage, then your marriage was in trouble in the first place,” he said.

The resolution now goes to the Nevada Assembly. If it passes the lower house, it will again have to pass both houses in 2015 before being sent to voters.



April 23rd, 2013 | LINK

I’m trying to absorb “Catholic marriage equality supporter” and “Mormon marriage equality supporter.” Feeling faint. Must sit down.

April 23rd, 2013 | LINK

Republican Mormon Nevadans are OK with Prostitution, but not gays who want to commit to each other.

Shouldn’t AUTHENTIC defenders of the Church and of Families be using their millions trying to outlaw Prostitution, which has real affect on hetero marriages and families, Rather Than on a “teeny 1%” of the population?

Just check out the proximity of Carson City Politicians to Ranches-of-Prostitution in Mormon-heavy Nevada:,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.45512109,d.eWU&biw=1093&bih=478&wrapid=tlif136672607930910&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&sa=N&tab=wl,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.45512109,d.eWU&biw=1093&bih=478&wrapid=tlif136672607930910&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&sa=N&tab=wl

It appears that Prostitution has replaced the practice of having multiple wives?

Priya Lynn
April 23rd, 2013 | LINK

Did this marriage ban go through the same lengthy process to get passed?

Customartist, should single men be denied access to prostitutes because some married men use their services? Not in my book.

April 23rd, 2013 | LINK


I completely get what you are saying. IF the individuals are as “Family” oriented as they claim, and defenders as such, their concentration on Marriage Equality to the exclusion of ANY actual issue that affects families in a negative way makes them pretty hypocritical. They do not seem to care about the real issues that affect marriages.

AND, it’s pretty obvious to most people that you have no desire to keep other men from prostitutes because of the failure of some married men to keep their business in their pants.

Any honest reading of what you said would not come to the conclussion that you were wanting to ban anything.

You are correct that they only concentrate on one thing to the exclusion of all others and that their “morality” is a bit strained on this being anyhting other than homophobic action. I didn’t see ANY straw men in your argument, and I won’t put words into your mouth.

They could also concentrate on banning Divorce for people involved in religous marriages if their concern was authentic, but nope, they like being married time after time after time.

April 23rd, 2013 | LINK

First, I’m glad we have one more out gay legislator and second, I hope we won’t keep banging away on outlawing divorce. If we really want to get at them, we should promote outlawing remarriage as long as the divorced partner is still alive.

April 23rd, 2013 | LINK

@Priya Lynn. Since this joint resolution repeals a constitutional amendment, it is itself a constitutional amendment and, therefore, must go through the process for any constitutional amendment. I don’t know what that is in Nevada.

April 23rd, 2013 | LINK

Found out how Nevada amends its constitution. When the legislature initiates an amendment, as in this case, both the Senate and the Assembly must approve the proposed amendment. Then, after the next general election for the legislature, the proposed amendment must be considered again and be approved by a majority in both chambers. After that, the amendment is submitted to the voters and must be approved by a majority of voters.

So I’d guess we’re at least two years and possibly more from seeing marriage equality in Nevada. This joint resolution is the first step in the process. The one man / one woman amendment was approved in 2002.

Priya Lynn
April 23rd, 2013 | LINK

Jpeckjr, I just don’t remember any of these anti-marriage amendments going through this long involved process in the first place, it seemed like they were all slapped into place pretty quickly.

April 23rd, 2013 | LINK

@Priya Lynn. Every state is a little different, I’m sure. Prop 8, because it was a citizen initiative, went on the ballot at the next general election.

Some states don’t have citizen initiatives at all. Some have only referendum — an act of the legislature that is submitted to the voters. But I think all states require constitutional amendments to be submitted to the voters. Amendments to the US Constitution are not submitted to the voters.

Great. Now I’m curious about this. I feel a research project coming on!

April 23rd, 2013 | LINK

In Nevada, a legislatively initiated amendment has to be passed by two consecutive legislative sessions and then go to the voters. A citizen-initiated amendment has to go to the voters in two consecutive elections, which is how the anti-equality amendment was passed (once in 2000 and once in 2002).

April 23rd, 2013 | LINK

Thanks, ebohlman. ThinkProgress in its report on Nevada says the earliest it could go to the voters is 2016.

April 24th, 2013 | LINK

The 2016 year made me decide to look up what the Almighty Nate Silver predicted Nevada will look like by then: 59.2% approval.

Of course, the Supreme Court could decide to make this whole process go a lot faster…

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