Nevada beat many states to the punch and banned same-sex marriage through a constitutional amendment in 2002 with about 67 percent of the vote. This bill, the Protection of Marriage amendment, came about from a petition started by the Coalition for Protection of Marriage
The constitutional ban also states that gay marriages granted in other states or jurisdictions will not be recognized.
Passing Domestic Partnership Registry
Legislation turned for the positive in 2009 as the Nevada Legislature passed a bill to allow for same-sex couples to enter into legal unions. Senate Bill 283 was sponsored by openly gay Senator David Parks and both houses had to reach a two-thirds majority in order for it to pass. Governor Jim Gibbons had promised to veto it, which he did, but the legislature overrode it May 31, 2009 with a 28-14 vote in the Assembly and 14-7 in the Senate. It took effect October 1, 2009 and created a domestic partnership registry that grants marriage rights to same-sex couples. Heterosexual couples can also join the registry and enjoy the same benefits without getting a marriage license.
The “Domestic Partnership Responsibilities Act 2009 will provide the exact state-level rights, responsibilities, obligations, entitlements and benefits of marriage” just another a different label. Already, many employers were stating that they are not obligated to provide benefits to partners on the registry because of the legislation’s “vagueness.”
As far as opinion goes, many are quick to say that the domestic partnership legislation is essentially the same thing as marriage, but it is missing an important element. Despite all the rights it provides, they are optional; employers are not under any legal obligation to offer them to employees in registered, same-sex relationships.
Continuing on for Marriage Equality
Despite the big stride towards marriage equality that was the Domestic Partnership Responsibilities Act, the fight for gay marriage is still not over. In order for same-sex marriage to stand a chance with a strong legal challenge, the federal law must first be lifted, thinks the Gay and Lesbian
Community Center of Southern Nevada’s executive director, Candice Nichols. Additionally, Senator Parks, the sponsor and author of the domestic partnership measure does not believe that anyone would challenge the Protection of Marriage amendment.
Nevada is now the seventeenth state to recognize the (registered) relationships of its homosexual residents. This means that same-sex couples can finally take part in the rights and responsibilities that legal marriage grants like insurance, access to information and healthcare rights. This legislation highlights how important language can be in the game of politics. While more than half of Nevadans voted to ban gay marriage there was no significant opposition to the domestic partnership registry law even though it grants the same rights as marriage.
- Can same-sex couples marry in Nevada? No.
- Can same-sex couples enter into any legal relationships? Yes, they can join the domestic partnership registry and receive some of the rights and responsibilities granted by marriage.