Another article on this interesting development:
[bold]Nevada Senate panel amends, passes gay marriage bill on party-line vote[/bold]
CARSON CITY, Nevada — A Nevada legislative committee took a big step Thursday to not only repeal the state's heterosexual definition of marriage but to recognize all marriages regardless of gender.
The Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections approved the measure on a 3-2 party line vote, sending it to the Senate floor.
The panel's decision was the first step in what would be a long process toward legalizing same-sex marriage in the Silver State. The measure must be approved by the Legislature this year and in 2015 before it would go to voters in 2016 for ratification.
The original proposal sought only to repeal language in the state constitution that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. But a late amendment adopted by the committee Thursday adds that the state "shall recognize marriages and issue marriage licenses, regardless of gender."
"We felt it would be cleaner to both eliminate the current prohibition and make it clear Nevada does not discriminate in any way," said Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, who introduced the bill.
The amendment drew opposition from Republican Sen. James Settelmeyer of Minden. Settelmeyer said he gave Segerblom his word that he would vote for the original bill but withdrew his support because of the new wording.
"I don't think the subject of marriage should be in the constitution," Settelmeyer said. "This is adding something else in, and I can't support that."
He was joined by Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, in opposing the measure, SJR13.
Nevada is one of 29 states with a constitutional provision prohibiting same-sex marriage, according to Lambda Legal, a national gay rights advocacy group. Nine states plus the District of Columbia have approved gay marriage.
Janine Hansen, president of the conservative group Nevada Families for Freedom, called the committee's vote a "kick in the teeth" of voters who approved the Protection of Marriage Act in 2000 and 2002, defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
"It makes same-sex marriage the standard in Nevada," she said.
But polls show Nevadans' sentiments on the issue are shifting, with many voters supporting gay marriage. According to 2010 census data, the number of gay and lesbian households in the state jumped 87 percent over the past decade.
In 2009, the Legislature approved domestic partnerships for any cohabitating couple — gay or straight.
The issue of gay marriage is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard arguments recently on California's gay marriage ban and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.