Nevada is having second thoughts about a ban on same-sex marriage that the state passed more than 10 years ago.
In 2000 the state constitution was amended to define marriage as between a man and a woman. On Monday (March 18) Senator Tick Segerblom, D-Vegas, introduced new legislation that would repeal the ban, kickstarting a two year process that could result in marriage equality.
To become law, the legislation needs to pass in the Legislature by a majority vote this year, and again in 2015 before it would be placed on the 2016 ballot for voters to decide.
“Repeal is all we need right now,” Segerblom said, according to the Las Vegas Sun. “It gives it to a vote of the people.”
The bill removes the heterosexual definition of marriage, but would not legalize same-sex marriage in Nevada. Vanessa Spinazola, a lobbyist for the ALCU who aided Segerblom on the legislation, said that including language in support of same-sex marriage would have drawn less support.
“There’s a little fear that if we did that, we wouldn’t get the whole thing” she said.
The repeal has a good chance of passing in a public referendum. The Retail Association of Nevada conducted a poll last month asking respondents, “Would you favor or oppose removing the Protection of Marriage provision from the Nevada Constitution? Removing this would allow same-sex couples to legally marry in Nevada.”
The poll showed that 54 percent of Nevadans favor repeal while 43 percent oppose. It also found that, with the exception of the 65 years and older population, Nevadans across nearly all demographics support the repeal.
The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, which also aided Segerbrom, said the organization would support efforts to both repeal the ban on sex-same marriage and introduce language that recognizes marriage equality if a majority of support could be garnered in the Legislature. So far, only Democrats have sponsored and co-sponsored Segerbrom’s bill. No Republican has signed on yet.
“Over the last 10 years attitudes have changed towards same-sex marriage and Nevadans now overwhelmingly support marriage equality,” Laura Martin, Communications Director at PLAN, told 429Magazine. “I’m just glad the ball is rolling in the legislature.”
Nevada’s efforts to repeal the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage come on the heels of Proposition 8 and The Defense of Marriage Act at the United States Supreme Court. One might wonder why the state chose to pursue legislation that will take years to enact on an issue that might be decided this spring.
Martin told 429Magazine, that in the instance of DOMA, the court’s decision would only affect federal legislation and “not undue the statewide system.” Therefore, marriage equality supporters are taking precaution to ensure that gays and lesbians have the right to marry in Nevada.
Hearings on the repeal are expected to commence next Tuesday (March 26) in the Legislature.