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May 25, 2015

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Nevada Assembly backs resolution to end ban on gay marriage

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Cathleen Allison / AP

Nevada Assemblyman James Healey, D-Las Vegas, speaks about his former partner who died in an accident in 2010, during an Assembly floor debate on gay marriage at the Legislative Building, in Carson City on Thursday, May 23, 2013. The Assembly voted 27-14 in favor of repealing the language in the Nevada Constitution that defines marriage as between a man and a woman, giving voters a chance to allow same-sex marriage.

The Nevada Assembly voted 24-17 today to move one step closer to removing a ban on same-sex marriage from the state Constitution.

Senate Joint Resolution 13 has already passed the Senate, meaning it needs approval of the 2015 Legislature and the voters of Nevada in the 2016 election to take effect.

The resolution would also create an affirmative right to marriage, regardless of gender.

The resolution states that “all legally valid marriages shall be treated equally under the law.”

Supporters of the resolution said the measure was about love and equality.

“We have been denied our civil rights and equality under the law,” said Assemblyman Andrew Martin, D-Las Vegas, whose partner of 27 years was sitting in the audience as he delivered an emotional speech.

Assemblyman Elliot Anderson, D-Las Vegas, addressed opponents, who say the Legislature should not enshrine same-sex marriage in the constitution or reverse the will of the voters in 2000 and 2002, when Nevadans decided to ban same-sex marriages via a constitutional amendment.

“Public opinion is evolving rapidly on this issue,” Anderson said. “The will of the voters is changing.”

Opponents to the proposal argued that the matter should be more about removing marriage from the Constitution rather than adding a new definition.

Others expressed definitive opposition to the measure.

“I believe that marriage between a man and woman is ordained by God,” said Assemblyman Cresent Hardy, R-Mesquite. “God has commanded that sacred powers of procreation are only to be employed between a man and a woman lawfully wedded as man and wife.”

The Assembly floor debates and vote followed a dramatic, emotional, late-night Senate floor session last month in which the Senate voted 12-9 to approve the measure.

It was during that debate that Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, revealed for the first time that he is gay, a remark that garnered the senator national attention.

In a much more subdued debate in the Assembly, Atkinson and other senators watched as Democrats voted in favor of the measure.

In both the Assembly and the Senate, one Republican joined Democrats to pass the resolution.

Assemblywoman Michelle Fiore, R-Las Vegas, and Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, supported the measure, along with all legislative Democrats.

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