Human Rights Campaign Applauds Nevada Legislature's Override Vote Recognizing Domestic Partnerships

by Admin

Vote to override Governor's veto makes Nevada the thirteenth state to offer some sort of relationship recognition for same-sex couples.

Washington - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today applauded the Nevada legislature for voting to override Governor Jim Gibbons' veto of SB 283 and recognizing domestic partnerships for lesbian, gay and unmarried straight couples. The state Senate voted 14-7 late Saturday to override the veto and the state Assembly followed by voting 28-14 last night, making Nevada the thirteenth state to offer some form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples. The Nevada legislation goes into effect October 1, 2009.

"This bipartisan vote to override the Governor's veto is proof positive that this is not a Democratic or Republican issue, but one of fairness and equal treatment under the law for all Nevada families," said Joe Solmonese, Human Rights Campaign President. "This is a law that will strengthen families and give meaning to the promise of equal rights for all. Today would not be possible were it not for a united coalition effort and we congratulate Senator David Parks, Harrah's Entertainment, MGM Mirage, the ACLU of Nevada, R&R Partners, The Nevada Resorts Association, PLAN, the Gay and Lesbian Center of Southern Nevada, and the Nevada Stonewall Democratic Caucus for their tremendous effort."

The Human Rights Campaign and its Nevada volunteer leadership mobilized its more than 5,000 supporters in Nevada to advocate for this legislation. Through HRC's efforts more than 1,000 phone calls and emails were generated by constituents reaching out to their legislators. HRC also partnered with the coalition to hold Nevada's first LGBT Lobby Day in Carson City on April 21-22 where HRC Associate Director of Diversity, Allyson Robinson, was a featured speaker. In 2006 and 2008, HRC worked for fair-minded leadership in the Nevada legislature, including sending a staff person to Las Vegas in 2008. HRC also held a Camp Equality activist training in 2008 seeking to give local advocates the tools needed to play key volunteer roles in Nevada campaigns.

"This is a great achievement for fairness and equality in Nevada. It would not have been possible without the relentless efforts of the members of the coalition," said Sen. David Parks, the bill's primary sponsor. "The Human Rights Campaign played a significant role in activating its membership and providing strategic advice. I sincerely thank them for their unrelenting efforts."

"It's wonderful to see the Nevada legislature recognize that the rights of thousands of Nevada families cannot and should not be neglected due to one individual's opinion," said Steve Amend, HRC Las Vegas Political Co-Chair. "Today the State of Nevada has taken a giant leap forward towards equality and we look forward to continuing the dialogue with the legislature to further advance our cause with regards to discrimination issues."

Follow HRC's work in Nevada at the Back Story blog.

Including Nevada, thirteen states plus Washington, D.C. have laws providing at least some form of state-level relationship recognition for same-sex couples. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont (as of September 1, 2009) and Maine (as of mid-September 2009, pending possible repeal effort) recognize marriage for same-sex couples under state law. Five states - California, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington (as of July 26, 2009, pending possible repeal effort) - plus Washington, D.C. provide same-sex couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships. Hawaii provides same-sex couples with limited rights and benefits.

New York recognizes marriages by same-sex couples validly entered into outside of New York. California recognized marriage by same-sex couples between June and November of 2008, before voters approved Proposition 8, which amends the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality. Recently the California Supreme Court upheld the validity of Prop 8, but also allowed the nearly 18,000 same-sex marriages already performed to stand.

Legislatures in New Hampshire and New York are considering marriage legislation that would permit same-sex couples to marry in those states, and the D.C. Council has passed legislation that would recognize marriages by same-sex couples legally entered into in other jurisdictions (that legislation is going through a Congressional review period).

Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state. To learn more about state by state legislation visit: www.hrc.org/state-laws.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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