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Nevada Reverses Gay Marriage Ban, Enshrines Marriage Equality In State Constitution

Well, at least Nevada did SOMETHING this week. While we’ve been waiting with bated breath for the state to complete its ballot count, Nevada was doing other things. Like recognizing gay marriage in its constitution.

For 18 years, Nevada did not recognize same-sex marriage in its state. In 2014, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that bans in Nevada and Idaho violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. And despite the Supreme Court ruling against same-sex marriage bans, state constitutions have not been amended.

Question 2 on the 2020 election ballot changed that for Nevada, making it the first state to recognize same-sex marriage in its constitution. Question 2 proposes three things:

1) Remove language stating that marriage is between only a man and a woman and require Nevada governments to issue and recognize marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

2) Require all legally valid marriages get equal treatment under the law.

3) Establish a right for religious institutions and clergy to refuse to perform marriages that they don’t want to without risking a civil lawsuit.

By the time three-fourths of the vote was counted, 62 percent of voters supported an amendment that recognizes marriages “as between couples regardless of gender.”

“It feels good that we let the voters decide,” Equality Nevada President Chris Davin told NBC News. “The people said this, not judges or lawmakers. This was direct democracy — it’s how everything should be.”

The amendment even received support from Republican Senator Ben Kieckhefer, who wrote an op-ed about the ballot question for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“Historically, our state has consistently been ahead of the curve in protecting the individual liberties of all Nevadans, regardless of sexual orientation or identity,” Kieckhefer wrote in his op-ed. “It’s a core tenet of our Battle Born culture. In 2013, the Legislature passed the first step in proposing a constitutional amendment ensuring marriage equality for all Nevadans. While I was proud to be the only Republican senator to support the measure in 2013, I’m much happier that a similar resolution passed the Legislature in 2017 and 2019 with only two senators opposing it. That’s progress.”

He continues:

“It’s important to note that the state constitution currently contains language that’s been invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court. In a 2015 ruling, the nation’s highest court upheld marriage equality as a constitutional right. As such, existing language to the contrary is ripe to be stricken from Nevada’s constitution.”

Congratulations, Nevada! Now finishing counting those votes.

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Written by Lindsay Patton