Metro Weekly

Nevada becomes first state to recognize gay marriage in state constitution

Voters chose to define marriage as a union "between couples regardless of gender"

nevada
Photo: Tallie Robinson, via Unsplash

Nevada voters have overturned an 18-year-old ban on same-sex marriage, becoming the first state to enshrine the right of same-sex couples to marry in its state constitution.

Sixty-two percent of Silver State voters voted in favor of nixing the older ban and recognizing marriage as “between couples regardless of gender.” The amendment also retained protections for religious organizations and clergy, who continue to be allowed to refuse to solemnize marriages that conflict with their religious beliefs.

“It’s the fix we need to make here,” André Wade, the head of Silver State Equality, which pushed the ballot initiative, told Las Vegas ABC affiliate KTNV. “We have discriminatory language in the constitution, and we need to take it out. We know Nevadans value equality, and we want our constitution to mirror that.”

The ballot initiative was first set in motion after being introduced by two openly gay lawmakers, former State Assemblyman Nelson Araujo and State Sen. David Parks, in 2017. It was soon after approved by the Nevada Legislature, which only convenes every two years.

“It feels good that we let the voters decide,” Chris Davin, the president of LGBTQ rights organization Equality Nevada, told NBC News after the ballot initiative’s victory was announced. “The people said this, not judges or lawmakers. This was direct democracy — it’s how everything should be.”

See also: Support for marriage equality reaches an all-time high

David noted that, even though it was set in motion years ago, some members of the LGBTQ community felt the revised constitutional amendment was particularly important to protect marriage rights for same-sex couples going forward. Fears increased following the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who has previously criticized the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling that legalized marriage equality nationwide and rendered Nevada’s ban toothless.

“People look at Nevada — at Las Vegas, at Reno — as a place where everyone comes to get married,” Davin said. “And the people of Nevada are saying, ‘We don’t care who you marry.'”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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