A Senate committee in the US state of Nevada has voted in favour of a bill which could, if voters approved, make a constitutional amendment to allow equal marriage.
The Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections voted along party lines for the amendment to take the question of same-sex marriage to Nevada voters.
The resolution SJR13, which was passed by the committee 3 votes to 2, sets out that the state of Nevada would recognise marriage regardless of gender. It will now go to the full Senate for a vote.
This session of the Legislature, as well as in 2015, would need to approve the legislation before the proposal could be placed on the 2016 election ballot for voters, reports the Las Vegas Sun.
In its original incarnation, the proposal only sought to repeal language used in the state constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. However, a late amendment adopted by the committee today adds that that Nevada “shall recognize marriages and issue marriage licenses, regardless of gender.”
Senator Tick Segeblom, who introduced the bill, said: “We felt it would be cleaner to both eliminate the current prohibition and make it clear Nevada does not discriminate in any way.”
The late amendment lost a vote for the bill, as Republican Senator James Settelmeyer, originally offered his support, but withdrew it because of the new wording.
“I don’t think the subject of marriage should be in the constitution,” he said. “This is adding something else in, and I can’t support that.” Senator Barbara Cegavske also opposed the measure.
In support were three Democrats, committee chairwoman, Patricia Spearman, Mark Manendo, and Kelvin Atkinson.
In 2002, voters in Nevada approved an amendment to the state constitution stating that “only a marriage between a male and female person shall be recognized and given effect in this state.” At that point, the vote was 337,197 to 164,573 for the amendment.
In June 2009, The law allowing domestic partnerships was passed, and became effective in September of that year, which allowed same-sex couples some rights, but not the full benefits of marriage.
Conservative groups condemned the committee’s vote, given the amendments in the past banning equal marriage.
Laura Martin, of Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, said: “All people in Nevada deserve the freedom to marry.”