The state of Nevada is on its way to making history as the first state in the U.S. to acknowledge all marriages in its state constitution.
On the ballot this election cycle was Question 2 which asked voters to remove an existing provision that only marriage between a male person and a female person would be recognized.
The state constitution will be amended to require the state (and its political subdivisions) to recognize all marriages and issue marriage licenses to couples regardless of gender, and to treat those marriages equally under the law.
The ballot question did include explicit language that allows religious organizations and clergy to refuse to perform a marriage that they don’t agree with on religious terms.
Same-sex marriages became legal in the Silver State in 2014, and across the nation in 2015 thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Obergefell v. Hodges ruling.
At this writing, the Secretary of State’s website shows the measure passing overwhelmingly by 61.69 percent to 38.31 percent.
Gary Brewer, who married his husband this past May in a small ceremony, told local news affiliate FOX5, “It feels really good to know this is the direction Nevada has taken and I feel really proud to call the state my home,”
Chris Davey of the Henderson Equality Center told FOX5 the legal amendment won’t change daily life for LGBTQ Nevadans at this time, but could prove to be crucial if the now-conservative leaning U.S. Supreme Court were to rule in favor of rolling back rights for same-sex marriages.
As I reported last month, on the first day of the Supreme Court’s new term, conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito chose to reignite their discontent with the 2015 decision that made marriage equality the law of the land.
Justice Thomas wrote that the Obergefell ruling “enables courts and governments to brand religious adherents who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman as bigots, making their religious liberty concerns that much easier to dismiss.”
Since that time, Amy Coney Barrett (who has a history of anti-LGBTQ views) has been confirmed to replace recently-deceased Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg increasing the conservative-leaning of the court to 6-3.
Just this week, Barrett heard arguments in a case regarding a Roman Catholic adoption agency in Philadelphia (Catholic Social Services) that claims a First Amendment right to decline to match foster children with same-sex households even though it signed a contract with the city agreeing not to engage in anti-LGBTQ discrimination through its taxpayer-funded activities.
According to Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson, the court appeared to side with CSS after the oral arguments.
With these Supreme Court developments in mind, state-based legal moves like Question 2 in Nevada become all the more important for LGBTQ Americans.
(source: FOX5 News, Washington Blade)