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October 9, 2015

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Nevada’s ban on same-sex marriage to be challenged

CARSON CITY — Nevada’s constitution banning same-sex marriage will be coming under attack from two sides in the coming months.

Assemblyman Elliot Anderson, D-Las Vegas, has asked that a bill be drawn to wipe out the constitutional prohibition passed by the voters in 2000 and 2002.

His legislation will be introduced after the Legislature convenes in February.

Separately, a hearing is set for federal court in Reno in November on a suit filed by eight same-sex couples who want marriage equality.

The proposed platform of the national Democrat Party, meeting this week in Charlotte, N.C., supports equal treatment for same-sex marriages.

Chris Miller, a delegate to the convention and the first openly gay person elected chair of the Clark County Democratic Party, said the platform shows the party cares about the Constitution and about freedom.

Nevada voters in 2000 first approved a proposed constitutional amendment limiting marriage to between men and women by a vote of 69.6 percent to 30.3 percent. The final vote in 2002 favoring the prohibition was 67 percent to 33 percent.

Anderson’s bill would start the ball rolling to eliminate the ban. It would have to pass the 2013 session of the Legislature and then be approved by the voters.

Anderson said he believes people have changed their minds since 2000 and 2002. “People are thinking differently,” he said. But he doesn’t know if the measure will be passed by the Legislature.

“All people are created equal and we must make sure our constitution is not sideways on that issue,” said Anderson, who attends law school. “We want to give them (the voters) an opportunity to pass judgment.”

A suit has been filed by eight same-sex couples in federal court asserting that everyone has the right to marry.

Tom Warnke, public information officer for Lambda Legal, the group that prepared the legal challenge, said a hearing is set for Nov. 26 on a motion by the state to dismiss the suit. There is also a motion for a summary judgment in favor of Lambda Legal to be argued.

The Legislature in 2009 overrode the veto of Gov. Jim Gibbons to create a domestic partnership law. Same-sex couples who are at least 18 years old may register with the Secretary of State’s Office.

The law says those couples “have the same rights, protections and benefits and are subject to the same responsibilities, obligations and are granted and imposed on spouses.”

They have the “same right to nondiscriminatory treatment as provided spouses.”

Since the law went into effect in 2009, 3,887 couples have filed for domestic partnerships.

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