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Marriage on Nevada ballot; Question 2 examined

Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 3:27 PM PDT|Updated: Oct. 9, 2020 at 4:07 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Back in 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled gay marriage legal in our country.

That opened the door for couples across the country to tie the knot. But the ruling didn’t just come out of thin air.

Ask Reno residents Karen Vibe and Karen Goody. Commonly known as the Karens, the two fought to have the right to legally marry.

Question Two asks: “Shall the Nevada Constitution be amended to: (1) remove an existing provision recognizing marriage as only between a male person and a female person…..(2) require all legally valid marriages to be treated equally under the law; (3) establish a right for religious organizations and clergy members to refuse to perform a marriage and provide that no person is entitled to make any claim against them for exercising that right?”

Back in 2002 commercials were running throughout the state encouraging Nevadans to vote yes on Question 2. If passed, Nevada’s constitution would change to recognize marriage as only between a man and a woman.

In 2002 Ken Lynn a supporter of Question 2 explained it his way.

“We are defining a man and a woman constitute a marriage and that institution is important for the state of Nevada,” said Lynn.

In 2002 Question 2 appeared on the ballot for the second time. A majority of Nevadans voted on the “Protect Marriage” question in 2000 as well. It passed both times overwhelmingly by voters.

But a decade later, Karen Vibe decided to challenge the gay marriage ban in Nevada.

“At what point does the population, the majority get to decide, when it has nothing to do with the life? And that part is difficult,” says Vibe.

The Karens' appeal ended up in front of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

At the time the U.S Supreme Court had already ruled on the issue. The 9th Circuit ruling in favor of the Karens and others was a formality.

But Vibe says there is one more hurdle to jump. That is getting the definition of marriage removed from the state constitution.

“We have this little tiny detail in our constitution that changed 18 years ago, and now we need to remove that language to make sure we are abiding by our current laws,” she says.

Nevada and 30 other states have such an amendment in their constitution. The silver state is the first to ask voters to repeal a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

“Well the most important reason: is that in 2000 and 2002 the people of Nevada voted with over 70% in favor of the constitutional amendment,” says Janine Hansen with the Nevada Families for Freedom as to why she is voting no on Question 2.

Hansen says she realizes the passage of Question 2 would not change the status of gay marriage in Nevada.

But she wonders if passage of the question will force people to change their beliefs.

“What takes precedent?” she asks. “The repeal of this constitutional amendment of marriage between a man and a woman, or do our religious liberties as in the Nevada Declaration of Rights take precedent?”

The question specifically addresses clergy and states that no person can make a claim against them for exercising their right to those beliefs.

Hansen says that may only be minimal protection.

Because Question 2 was passed by the legislature twice, it only needs to be approved by the voters once to change the constitution or have it remain as it is today.

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