Nevada House votes to reverse marriage ban

Timothy Kincaid

May 23rd, 2013

In 2002, the voters of Nevada voted by a two-thirds majority to amend their constitution to limit marriage to heterosexuals. But attitudes shifted and in 2009 – amidst heavy lobbying from the casinos – the legislature passed an all-but-the-name domestic partnership bill.

Last month, the state Senate became the first legislative body to vote for the repeal of an anti-gay marriage amendment when Republican Senator Ben Kieckhefer (R – Carson City) joined eleven Democrats to support Senate Joint Resolution 13. Today the House followed suit. (LVRJ)

Senate Joint Resolution 13 passed the Assembly on a 27-14 vote, bringing the process to get it to the ballot in 2016 to an end for this year. All the no votes were Republicans.

It must pass again in identical form in the 2015 legislative session before it could go to the ballot. Gov. Brian Sandoval’s signature is not required.

The proposal would remove Nevada’s current prohibition on same-gender marriage from the state constitution, and add new language recognizing same-gender marriage.

It also includes a provision to guarantee that religious organizations do not have to perform such unions.

Rep. Michele Fiore (R – Las Vegas) joined 26 Democrats in finalizing the first step of the repeal process.

Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, spoke in support of the measure.

“When we started this floor session, I introduced my mother to this body, proudly,” she said. “What is currently in our constitution does not allow her to get married. You see, my mom is gay. I love my mom with all my heart, and I am who I am today because of her guidance, influence and how she raised me.”

With the rapid pace of change in popular opinion, a 2016 vote seems almost certainly to favor equality.

A poll conducted by the Retail Association of Nevada earlier this year found that 54 percent of voters want the state constitutional ban on gay marriage repealed, while 43 percent want it to stay in place.

Mark

May 23rd, 2013

There’s no certainty, however, of a 2016 vote ever occurring.

The Democrats only control the state Senate by an 11-10 margin, with a couple of very vulnerable seats in the 2014 elections. (The Dems lost two heartbreakingly close elections in 2012.) So if the Republicans pick up just one seat in 2014, the measure won’t be voted on in the state Senate, and the entire process would have to be started over again in 2017, with hopes for a 2020 vote.

Timothy Kincaid

May 23rd, 2013

Mark,

I think that it will pass. The casinos want it to pass and the retailers want it to pass, and what they want they get.

Even if Republicans take the Senate, I predict that there will be enough who support the measure and the Senate Leader will bring it to a vote. The casinos will make sure of that.

Mark

May 24th, 2013

Timothy,

That strikes me as an extraordinarily optimistic assessment. As things stand, and despite lobbying from casinos, Republican legislators voted 23-2 against the marriage amendment (9-1 against in the Senate).

Perhaps if they take control of the Senate (likely by ousting Justin Jones, who barely won his seat in 2012, with an anti-marriage Mormon), they’ll turn around and nonetheless allow a vote on the marriage amendment, despite overwhelming opposition in both their caucus and the party base. Or perhaps the casinos will communicate that ssm is their number one issue, rather than taxation or regulatory matters, and that Republicans who oppose ssm won’t get casino money. I don’t think either scenario is likely, and hope we don’t get the chance to find out, though it looks right now as if Republicans will retake the Senate.

Of course, there’s also a legal challenge to the NV and HA bans pending before the 9th circuit, so perhaps the courts will strike it down.

Timothy Kincaid

May 24th, 2013

Mark,

It may indeed be a bit optimistic and I certainly see the basis of your incredulity. But after New York and New Hampshire, I think that I see a pattern emerging.

And then there was that time a couple of decades ago when an official with the Nevada Republican Party told me about the study on the financial advantages of gay marriage that he had been discussing with certain casinos … but I digress.

Nathaniel

May 24th, 2013

Timothy,
Is the pattern you see the one where just enough Republicans vote for equality for it to pass (or at least earn the label ‘bipartisan’)? If so I see it, too, and share your optimism. Losing a seat here or there doesn’t matter so long as they build a stronger, long-term chance at total leadership. I don’t know much about Nevada politics, but when citizens and important industries begin to favor equality, Republicans always seem to find a way to make it happen.

Timothy Kincaid

May 24th, 2013

Nathaniel,

Is the pattern you see the one where just enough Republicans vote for equality for it to pass (or at least earn the label ‘bipartisan’)?,/i>

yes

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