Sunday, May 31, 2009 | 8:02 p.m.
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CARSON CITY – In what supporters are calling a historic moment, the Assembly on Sunday night overrode the veto of Gov. Jim Gibbons on a bill giving legal rights to domestic partners.
Tod Story, a member of the board of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, said "Nevadans can stand proud."
Story said Nevada has become the 17th state to recognize the relationships of gay and lesbian couples under state law.
The law takes effect Oct. 1.
The vote Sunday night was 28-14, the bare minimum needed to overturn the decision of the governor. It follows the 14-7 vote in the Senate Saturday and puts the bill into law.
Gary Peck, executive director of the ACLU in Nevada, said “this is a proud day in Nevada’s history. With its override, our Legislature has put our state on the right side of a growing movement to honor this country’s promise that every one of us is entitled to equal treatment under the law.”
Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, who gave the only speech on the floor, called this a “historic vote for equality and justice.”
“This is the most important civil rights legislation we’ve had in all my years here and I am so happy and honored to be a part of it.”
She said she knew it was “a struggle” for many legislators.
She said domestic partners “are not asking us to approve of their lives or how they live but they are asking us for respect. As citizens of this great state, they are asking that their government give them the ability to choose who they will live with and who they will love.”
Senate Bill 283 provides domestic partners the same rights in such things as community property responsibility for debt to third parties and the right to seek financial support if they split up.
The bill specifically states that a domestic partnership is not a marriage as outlined in the 2002 constitutional amendment that says a marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
The partners, whether of the same or opposite sex, would register with the Secretary of State’s Office for legal recognition. And if they split, they would file dissolution of the registration.
The bill says domestic partners have the same rights, protections and benefits that are ranged or imposed upon spouses.
The governor, in his veto message, said the voters in 2002 felt “the right of marriage should apply only to married couples, only the voters should determine whether those rights should equally apply to domestic partners.”
Voters approved that amendment 337,197 to 164,573.
Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, the openly gay sponsor of SB283, said it's "about fairness and equality," and that it doesn't diminish the sanctity of marriage.
Voting against the bill on Sunday were Republicans John Carpenter of Elko, Chad Christensen of Las Vegas, Tyrus Cobb of Reno, Heidi Gansert of Reno, Pete Goicoechea of Eureka, Tom Grady of Yerington, Don Gustavson of Sparks, John Hambrick of Las Vegas, Joe Hardy of Boulder City, Richard McArthur of Las Vegas, James Settelmeyer of Gardnerville, Lynn Stewart and Melissa Woodbury, both of Henderson.
One Democrat, Mo Denis of Las Vegas, voted to sustain the governor’s veto. Edwin Goedhart, a Republican from Amargosa Valley voted for the override.