Nevada Senate panel hears testimony on repealing state’s gay marriage ban


CARSON CITY, Nev. — A Nevada state Senate committee heard testimony on Tuesday on a resolution to repeal the state’s constitutional provision that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

SJR13 was introduced last week by Democratic Sen. Tick Segerblom of Las Vegas, and Tuesday’s hearing in the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections came on the same day the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing arguments on California‘s ban on same sex marriage.

Nevada’s ban on same-sex marriage was enacted in 2002 when voters passed Question 2, the “Protection of Marriage Act,” with 66.9 percent of voters in favor.

Now, more than ten years later, polls show sentiment in Nevada for same sex marriage has changed, with many voters supporting it. A February 2013 poll by the Retail Association of Nevada poll found that 54 percent of voters support marriage equality for gay couples.

Supporters said that allowing same sex marriages in Nevada — the marriage capital of the world — would bring in more money for the state.

“My personal belief is that marriage is between a man and a woman. But as governor, I believe the people of Nevada should have the freedom to decide should this issue come before them for a vote,” Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval said a statement Tuesday.

With some Senate Republicans backing the resolution, it stands a good chance of clearing the Senate.

Because SJR13 seeks to repeal a constitutional amendment, it must be approved by legislators this year and in 2015 before going to voters in 2016.

“It’s time to stop playing politics with other people’s lives and let people decide what they want to do with their lives,” said Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas.

In 2009, the Nevada state legislature passed a bill to create a domestic partnership registry to allow same-sex couples many of the same rights as married, heterosexual couples. The law took effect on October 1, 2009.

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