During over an hour of intense debate over the repeal of the state’s gay marriage ban on Monday, Nevada state Sen. Kelvin Atkinson (D-North Las Vegas) officially came out as a gay man, reports the Huffington Post.
“I’m black. I’m gay,” he said, in what the Las Vegas Sun described as a “trembling” voice. “I know this is the first time many of you have heard me say that I am a black, gay male.”
The vote to repeal the ban on gay marriage passed the state senate by a vote of 12-9 paving the way for the status of the ban to be determined by Nevada voters in 2016. While it first has to pass through a heavily Democratic Assembly, it seems as if Nevada is on the verge of realizing marriage equality.
That fact is one that divided both Republican and Democratic members of the Senate.
“I don’t know if I’ll be allowed in church on Sunday,” said Sen. Ruben Kihuen, a Catholic, who said his “more progressive” girlfriend often berated him for resisting gay marriage rights. He ultimately voted in favor of SJR13.
Sen. Justin Jones, a Mormon, said he sees his gay brother-in-law each Sunday at church and couldn’t bring himself to vote against extending him marriage rights despite a threat from one of the earliest proponents of the gay marriage ban.
“I would rather lose an election than look my brother-in-law in the eye every Sunday and tell him he doesn’t have the same rights as I do,” Jones said.
Sen. Joe Hardy, also a Mormon, took a different tack, saying marriage is “ordained of God” and that such relationships “perpetuate beyond the grave.”
“I do not believe this measure will strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society,” he said.
Sen. Mark Hutchison, also a Mormon, decried efforts to paint those who oppose gay marriage as intolerant.
“Until about a year ago this was the view of the president of the United States,” Hutchison said of President Barack Obama‘s initial opposition to gay marriage on religious grounds. “I do not recall his supporters labeling him as intolerant, or insensitive or hypocritical or unenlightened. He had a different view than others.”
As previously reported by NewsOne, during a poll we conducted after President Obama announced that his “evolution” on gay marriage was complete, over 63 percent of our readership disagreed with him.
Atkinson had some stern words for those lawmakers and voters who would deny citizens equal rights under the law based on “tradition”:
“If this hurts your marriage,” said Atkinson, “then your marriage was in trouble in the first place.”