Nevada Senate Votes To Repeal Ban On Same-Sex Couples’ Marriages

During the course of the debate, Nevada Sen. Kelvin Atkinson told his colleagues — and the world — that he is gay. Monday’s vote was the first step in a long process.

WASHINGTON — Late Monday, the Nevada Senate became the first legislative chamber in the country to vote to overturn a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex couples from marrying.

After a little more than an hour of debate in which one senator publicly declared that he was gay for the first time, the Nevada Senate voted 12-9 to repeal the state’s 2002 amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman and replace it with language requiring the recognition of all marriages between two people, “regardless of gender.”

In addition to out LGBT Sens. David Parks and Pat Spearman, Sen. Kelvin Atkinson declared on the floor during the debate, “I am a black, gay male.” Because he was speaking about his sexual orientation publicly for the first time Monday night, he said he had heard negative comments about the marriage amendment repeal from others prior to the vote. But, he said, “People should mind their business and allow people to do what they want to do.”

State Sen. Ben Kieckhefer was the sole Republican to vote for the marriage amendment’s repeal.

The bill will now go to the state Assembly. If it passes there, it will have to be passed by the next legislature, which meets in 2015, and then by the people the following year.

Nevada Sen. Kelvin Atkinson Via facebook.com

Sen. Atkinson’s Comments Sparked Support:

I'm really proud of @katkinson702 for standing up on the Senate floor and saying on record "I am a black gay male" #nvleg #sjr13

— hdubtre (@Howard Watts III)

Sen @katkinson702 discloses that he's gay, and has been disturbed by comments made to him from those who didn't know it. #nvleg

— AMdoughman (@Andrew M. Doughman)

With Sen @katkinson702 brave statement tonight, three of 21 senators are openly gay. A very personal vote for the whole body #nvleg

— AMdoughman (@Andrew M. Doughman)

Love you @katkinson702!!!!!

— LauraKMM (@Laurita)

Yep, @katkinson702 is going to get a great deal of love, respect & admiration tonight. As he should. #equality #ItsGetBetter #NVLeg

— jkarsh (@Jason Karsh)

@katkinson702 thank you for your bravery and being true to yourself ::hugs::

— discodream54 (@Rafael Lopez)

Not to outdone by Senator Jones. Senator Atkinson show courage in Carson tonight @katkinson702 @Jones4Nevada

— roryjreid (@The Weekly Reid)

@katkinson702 I am PROUD to call you MY State Senator. Thank you. @AFER @HRC #MarriageEquality #NOH8

— matt_fuqua (@Matthew Fuqua)

Oh, Sen. @katkinson702 - I love you even more tonight. And you look beautiful in black.

— TheBlueNevadan (@The Blue Nevadan)

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Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.
Contact Chris Geidner at chris.geidner@buzzfeed.com
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