Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Black Gay Nevada State Legislator Comes Out

Nevada State Senator Kelvin Atkinson (D)
The Nevada State Senate voted 12-9 to approve Senate Joint Resolution 13, a measure that if passed by the entire Legislature in two consecutive sessions would lead to a referendum in November 2016 that would repeal and replace the Silver State's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage which dates from 2002.

Tuesday night's legislative action makes the Nevada State Senate the first legislative body in the United States to vote to repeal a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. But, there was an even more historic event that occurred during the debate, and that was the coming out by one of the state Senators:
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.
Amazingly, the 21-member Nevada State Senate now has 3 openly LGBT members (1 in 7!): Kelvin Atkinson, Senate President Pro Tem David Parks and Pat Spearman. 2 of the 3 are Black and LGBT. There are two other openly LGBT members of the Nevada State House.

This is a very interesting development in the history of LGBT equality. I wonder how long it will be before other blue states with "mini-DOMA" (state constitutional amendments banning marriage equality) will start taking legislative action to repeal them?

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