Tonight the Nevada State Senate took the first step toward bringing marriage equality to the Silver State. In a late-night session, the vote was 12-9 in favor of Senate Joint Resolution 13 (SJR13). All eleven Democrats and one Republican (Sen. Ben Kieckhefer,R-Reno) voted to pass the resolution out of the Senate. It will now go on to the Assembly with language that if passed by both houses, would start the process to strip the same-sex marriage ban (passed in 2002) from our state constitution. (If it passes the Legislature this session and in 2015, it would then have to be approved by the people in 2016. And if you recall, the math is in our favor this time!) It’s the first step in a long road. But a glorious first step!
And it seems that tonight’s vote would not have been possible without the work and passionate testimony of key Senators, including freshman Sen. Pat Spearman, an openly gay pastor, and Sens. Justin Jones and Mo Dennis, who voted in favor of SJR13 after language was added to allow religious institutions to opt out of performing same-sex wedding. (Jones and Dennis are Mormon.) The Review Journal story does not make mention of what appears to have been compelling and emotional testimony from Sen. Spearman, accounts of which I followed through live-tweets from various journalists those present at the hearing.
Spearman tells of waitress in the South who spit on her hamburger because she entered the front of the restaurant, not the back. #nvleg
— Anjeanette Damon (@AnjeanetteDamon) April 23, 2013
Spearman: I know what it feels like when people want to push separate but equal. #nvleg — Anjeanette Damon (@AnjeanetteDamon) April 23, 2013
Too often we who cover politics think of these people as automatons pressing a red or green button. Not tonight. Raw, emotional, human. — Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) April 23, 2013
Spearman invokes Brown v. Board of Education. “Separate is not equal.” Lots of seminal cases tossed around tonight. Loving v. Virginia, too.
— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) April 23, 2013
“People will use religion to discriminate.But this is about asking the people of Nevada if they want equal rights.” ~Sen. @spearman4senate
— The Blue Nevadan (@TheBlueNevadan) April 23, 2013
It will be some time before I can get a copy of the official transcript. But there’s no doubt that Spearman’s emotional testimony has moved people before. Remember the story of Tessa dying of AIDS, a lynchpin of Spearman’s testimony in favor of the comprehensive sex education bill, Assembly Bill 230 (AB230). Speaking of which… It looks like AB230 will be coming up for a vote sometime Tuesday (April 24). Please, if you haven’t already, take the 30 seconds and submit your opinion of the bill! It matters!
*Cover image courtesy of ProgressNow Nevada
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