Gay Marriage Resolution Advances in Nevada

CARSON CITY, Nev. A controversial bill repealing a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage passed the Nevada Senate Monday in a near party line vote.

Senate Joint Resolution 13 repeals the constitutional amendment enacted by voters in 2002.

Emotional speeches were given from senators both in favor and opposed to SJR13. It was a rare moment in the chamber, with nearly every senator voicing their opinions.

Sen. Patricia Spearman (D), an 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.

For many Republicans in the Senate, repealing the Protection of Marriage Act defining marriage as between one man and one woman, was not the problem.

"I do not believe the subject of marriage, who you can and cannot marry belongs in the state constitution," Sen. Michael Roberson (R) said.

Sen. Roberson said he believes the issue should not be decided by government.

Sen. Mark Hutchison said he would have supported just putting the measure on the ballot.

"I support the right of the people to change the constitution," he said.

Another 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.

After a long debate, the resolution was approved on a 12-9 vote. 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.