The Trailblazer Behind LGBTQ Equality in Nevada

by Curtis Clinch

Nevada has long been the unsung hero for advancing equality for LGBTQ people, women, immigrants, people of color and many others — and behind every great state is a great leader.

State Senator David Parks is the champion behind LGBTQ equality in Nevada and has spent his career breaking down barriers on behalf of the LGBTQ community.

Above all, Sen. Parks’ career highlights the importance of local elections and how one victory in just one city can lead to countless victories and protections for LGBTQ people and their families,

Briana Escamilla, HRC Nevada State Director

Beginning his career in 1999, Sen. Parks made history by becoming the first openly LGBTQ person elected to the Nevada State Legislature. He not only raised visibility for the community, but he also blazed the trail for pro-LGBTQ legislation that would end up securing life-saving protections for countless Nevadans, including:

  • Non-Discrimination Protections: Sen. Parks was instrumental in passing a set of laws that protect LGBTQ Nevadans from discrimination in housing, employment, public spaces, credit, education, jury selection and other key areas of life. Learn more.
  • Marriage Equality: Prior to the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in favor of nationwide marriage equality, Sen. Parks was instrumental in marriage equality becoming law in the Silver State in 2015.
  • Protections Against So-Called “Conversion Therapy”: In 2017, Sen. Parks was one of the main sponsors of a bill that is now law and protects youth from the dangerous, debunked practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” Every major medical and mental health organization has denounced this harmful practice which increases the risk of substance abuse, depression and suicide. This law was enacted in May 2017.
  • LGBTQ “Panic Defense” Ban: In the wake of the rising epidemic of violence against LGBTQ people, especially transgender women of color, Sen. Parks championed a law banning the discriminatory use of a victim’s LGBTQ identity as a potential defense for violent crimes.
  • Trans-Inclusive Health Benefits: Sen. Parks led the fight for inclusive health care and pushed for the Nevada State Legislature to pass a law ensuring transgender state employees have equal access to health care.
Elected leaders David Parks and Pat Spearman with Governor Sisolak as he creates HIV Modernization Task Force

Under Sen. Parks’ numerous leadership positions — including assistant majority floor leader and president pro tempore — Nevada consistently became one of the first states to pass critical pro-equality legislation, even ahead of the federal government.

Sen. Parks has not only been a fierce champion in Nevada’s local government, he has also been a tireless advocate in the community. He has fought shoulder to shoulder with local pro-equality organizations, including Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), HRC, ACLU Nevada, NARAL, Battle Born Progress, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, Nevada Homeless Alliance and many others.

As he retired, Sen. Parks concluded his monumental career on a high note when he helped pass a sweeping set of pro-LGBTQ bills that will move equality forward for all people throughout the state.

David Parks advancing LGBTQ rights at a town hall

HRC will continue Sen. Parks’ fight by working to elect pro-equality leaders at all levels of government, supporting in-state leaders who will work to ensure all people have equality in employment, health care, the voting booth, education and all other areas of life.

With just 62 Days until Election Day, join HRC in Nevada as we mobilize voters to vote for pro-equality candidates from the White House to the state house to city council.

Continue the Legacy of Progress by: