The Nevada Senate has narrowly passed a bill that would begin the process of repealing their ban on same-sex marriage. Only one Republican, Senator Ben Kieckhefer, joined the Democrats in voting for the measure. The bill, Senate Joint Resolution 13, passed 12 to 9.
The move came after an hour of personal floor speeches that included one from Senator Kelvin Atkinson. He not only came out in support for repealing the ban, but just flat out came out. He is now the third openly gay member of the Nevada Senate.
Atkinson stated “I’m 44 years old. I have a daughter. I’m black. I’m gay. I have dealt with a lot of what folks are talking about. And I know some of you are first time hearing me say that. That I am a black gay male.”
He joins Senators David Parks and Patrica Spearman as the only LGBT members in the Nevada Senate.
Atkinson even went so far as to rebut the argument that same-sex marriage threatens straight marriage by saying “If this hurts your marriage, then your marriage was in trouble in the first place.”
Religion was a problem, of course.
Openly Catholic Senator Ruben Kihuen, who voted in favor of SJR13, stated “I don’t know if I’ll be allowed in church on Sunday.” Kihuen, who is not married, has often fought with his girlfriend over the issue.
For Senator Justin Jones, a Mormon, also faced his religion and his constituents over this and it came down to his family. He stated “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.”
Of course, Senator Mark Hutchinson, also a Mormon, was not happy about being called intolerant. He stated “Until about a year ago this was the view of the president of the United States. I do not recall his supporters labeling him as intolerant, or insensitive or hypocritical or unenlightened. He had a different view than others.”
Apparently Hutchinson never visited some of the sites where Obama was called intolerant, insensitive, hypocritical and unenlightened. Maybe he should take a stroll around the LGR archive.
The ban on marriage equality was passed in Nevada in 2002 by the voters. This would put the measure before the voters in 2016. Senator Pat Spearman, a Democrat, stated “This is a vote to let the people vote for equality.”