A bill repealing the state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage passed the Nevada Senate Monday by a vote of 12-9.
Senate Joint Resolution 13 repeals the constitutional amendment enacted by voters in 2002.
Sen. Kelvin Atkinson declared on the floor during the debate, “I am a black, gay male.” Because he was speaking about his sexual orientation publicly for the first time Monday night, he said he had heard negative comments about the marriage amendment repeal from others prior to the vote. But, he said, “People should mind their business and allow people to do what they want to do.”
Sen. Patricia Spearman (D), openly gay freshmen senator was the first to speak, saying “This is a vote to let the people vote for equality.”
Sen. David Parks (D) who is also openly gay, urged the passage saying the daily lives of heterosexuals would go on, but the passage of SJR13 would dramatically change the way he and his friends live.
Along the lines of equality, Sen. Aaron Ford (D) stood up to say his heart was pounding, and he compared this issue to the debate over interracial marriage.
“I…urge you to support the notion of equality,” he said. “That which denied me, and people who look like me, the opportunity to marry whomever we wanted to based on some arbitrary definition of what it’s suppose to be about.”
Sen. Ford is one of a few black members of the Nevada Legislature.
Sen. Justin Jones (D), said he couldn’t look a gay family member in the eye if he voted against SJR13’s passage.
One argument from the opposition – the voters have already decided to ban gay marriage eleven years ago. But many spoke saying, public support of the ban is wavering.
“This country is changing. Nevada is changing. And we must change with Nevada,” Sen.Ruben Kihuen said.
Senator Ben Kieckhfer was the lone Republican to vote in favor of passing the resolution.
SJR 13 is now on its way to the Assembly. If passed by lawmakers this year and in 2015, it would go to voters in 2016 who will ultimately make the final decision.