An equal marriage bill in the US state of Nevada has been subject to an amendment to add protections for religious groups, which says none would be forced to perform same-sex marriages.
The amendment to Senate Joint Resolution 13 (SJR13) was voted on strictly down party lines, and passed 11 votes to 10, with all Democrats voting for, and all Republicans voting against it.
The newly amended version of SJR13 will now go to the Senate floor for a vote next week. This new amendment was intended to ensure support from Democrats.
The new language states: “Religious organizations and clergy have the right to refuse to solemnize a marriage and no person has the right to make any claim against a religious organization or clergy for such a refusal.”
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.
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.
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.
The Church of the Latter Day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church, which is particularly prominent in the state of Nevada, strongly opposes the amendment.