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Nevada Assembly committee considers pro-marriage equality ballot measure

Marriage equality

By Jacob CombsNevada state seal

It’s been a huge week for marriage equality, with a successful House vote in Minnesota that tees up Senate consideration on Monday and the passage of equal marriage rights in Delaware.  Add to that Rhode Island’s big marriage success last week, and we will very likely have three new marriage equality states in as many weeks in just a few days time.

In the midst of all these exciting developments, while the state of Nevada may not currently be making national news on the marriage equality front, lawmakers and LGBT advocates there are busy setting the groundwork for a campaign to win marriage rights in the state for same-sex couples.  Last night, the Nevada Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections took up Senate Joint Resolution 13, a proposed bill that would repeal Nevada’s constitutional ban on marriage equality and replace it with language supporting equal marriage rights.

Last month, we reported on the bill’s passage by the Nevada Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee, which led to a successful 12-9 vote in the full chamber a few weeks later in which one senator publicly came out to his colleagues as they were considering the legislation.  As we noted earlier, the amendment has a long path ahead of it before Nevada couples will be allowed to marry:

“The amended bill will have to be approved by both houses of the Nevada legislature during the current session and again during the 2015 session, and then placed on the 2016 ballot as a constitutional amendment.  If Nevada voters approve the amendment, the marriage equality ban currently in the state’s constitution would be removed and replaced with language inclusive of same-sex couples.”

During yesterday’s committee meeting, according to the Las Vegas Sun, Committee chairman James Ohrenschall imposed a strict two-minute time limit on all testimony.  Opponents of marriage equality–who had said they were given insufficient time to express their views when the Senate took up the bill–were allowed to testify before supporters.  One man said that marriage equality would lead to an increase in the rate of diseases; another said than it would indicate the state was “devolving.”

Nevertheless, the bill is one of the most popular the legislature is currently considering: the state legislature’s public comment page has received significantly more comments in support of the legislation than those in opposition to it.  Comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. local time today.

There are three more weeks left in this year’s session of the Nevada legislative, which only meets in odd-numbered years, so SJR13 is expected to move quickly through the state Assembly.  Committee chairman James Orenschall will first call for a vote to advance the bill out of committee, and Speaker of the House Marilyn Kirkpatrick will then call a floor vote.

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