Legislature begins process to repeal same-sex marriage banPosted: Updated:
Late Monday night, the Nevada State Senate passed a resolution that begins the process of repealing the gay marriage ban from the state constitution.
Senate Joint Resolution 13 seeks a repeal while adding language that the state recognizes same-sex unions.
The floor speeches brought out emotional testimony, including Senator Kelvin Atkinson publicly coming out as a gay man.
"I'm black. I'm gay," Atkinson told his colleagues.
Atkinson says people opposed to a public vote are scared that opinions have changed since Nevada voters added the man and woman language to the constitution in 2000 and 2002.
"People are concerned that the voters have changed their mind and that we have an entirely new demographic and that it will pass," Atkinson said. "So I say send it there and let them decide."
Republicans stepped forward to say they were in favor of the initial resolution but not the added language of recognition.
"The better course of action was and is to pass the original version of SJR13 to remove the subject of marriage from the state constitution," said Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson. "Following repeal, this legislature can address the subject of marriage as it historically has, by statute."
Many lawmakers confessed their religious backgrounds caused added contemplation.
"I'm not sure I'm going to be allowed in my church on Sunday, but this is what I believe in from my heart," said Democratic Senator Ruben Kihuen.
There are many religions opposed to same-sex marriages.
The local Catholic diocese was not available to go on camera but referred us to the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which says: "Marriage, whose nature and purposes are established by God, can only be the union of a man and a woman and must remain such in law."
In the end, the Senate voted 12-9 to pass the resolution, with Reno Senator Ben Kiekhefer the only Republican voting yes.
SJR13 now goes to the Assembly, where it will go through committee hearings.
A vote from that body will happen sometime in May.
Because the same-sex marriage ban is in the state constitution, the legislature has to pass it this session and in 2015 before voters would get a chance to decide the issue in the 2016 election.
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