Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gay News Blog: Nev. overrides guv's partnership bill veto

Gay News Blog: Nev. overrides guv's partnership bill veto

By BRENDAN RILEY, Associated Press Writer

(05-31) 19:15 PDT Carson City, Nev. (AP) --

The Assembly overrode Gov. Jim Gibbons' veto on a 28-14 vote Sunday and changed state law so that domestic partners, whether gay or straight, have many of the rights and benefits that Nevada offers to married couples.
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The Assembly's vote — the bare two-thirds majority needed — followed the state Senate's similar decision, with no votes to spare, a day earlier to make the historic change in state law over the conservative Republican governor's objections.

Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, termed SB283 "the most important civil rights legislation we have had in all my years here," adding the law change ensures "justice for all, not justice for some."

Leslie said proponents of the new law were asking "that their government give them the ability to choose who they will live with and whom they will love."

SB283 provides that domestic partners have the same rights as married couples in matters such as community property and responsibility for debts. It also prohibits discrimination against domestic partners.

The measure states that no "solemnization ceremony" is required and it's "left to the dictates and conscience of partners entering into a domestic partnership" whether to have such a ceremony.

Critics contended that domestic partners could sign private contracts to accomplish many of the goals of SB283, and that it conflicted with the intent of Nevadans who voted in 2002 for a constitutional amendment supporting marriage between a man and a woman.

There were no arguments against SB283 during the Assembly's override vote on Sunday. In the Senate on Saturday, Sen. Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, a conservative minister, brought up the 2002 amendment supporting traditional marriages, adding, "There has to be a line. There has to be a difference."

Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, the openly gay sponsor of SB283, said it's "about fairness and equality," and that it doesn't diminish the sanctity of marriage.

"I think it's great. Nevada becomes the 17th state to have some form of domestic partnership legislation," Parks said after the Assembly vote, adding, "It shows that Nevada can be progressive and that we definitely have a libertarian streak, 'live and let live.'"

"I could never have done it alone," Parks said. "It was a wonderful, concerted effort on the part of lots and lots of people, right down to lobbyists who didn't have anything to gain from it but thought it was the right thing to do."

The override was hailed by Tod Story of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada as evidence of the state's tradition of "libertarian independence and self-determination."

Gary Peck of the American Civil Libertjavascript:void(0)ies Union of Nevada said legislators honored "this country's promise that every one of us is entitled to equal treatment under the law."

"This is the most significant vote for equality since the Legislature ratified suffrage in 1920," said Bob Fulkerson of the liberal Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. PLAN's Jan Gilbert added the vote was "a resounding rejection of the governor's intolerance and a bright spot in a difficult legislative session."

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