While this is Women’s Week in the Nevada Legislature, we’re also seeing movement on LGBTQ civil rights. The Senate passed a bill yesterday to ease the name change process for transgender Nevadans. And today, the Assembly passed a foster care bill and a constitutional amendment to protect Nevada’s marriage equality. Which bill passed unanimously, and which two mostly passed along party lines?
The Senate passed SB 110 unanimously.
Only Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson (R-Henderson) was absent on the name change bill floor vote. After the painfully contentious fight over an anti-trans* “bathroom bill” in 2015, the SB 110 Senate floor vote came as much welcomed relief to LGBTQ civil rights activists.
Activists hoped the spirit of inclusiveness and bipartisanship would continue in the Assembly today. Rumors even floated of four Assembly Republicans crossing over to pass the AJR 2 marriage equality amendment.
That mostly failed to materialize, despite Assembly Member Mike Sprinkle’s (D-Sparks) plea to his colleagues on the AB 99 foster care bill. He noted sponsor Nelson Araujo’s (D-Las Vegas) willingness to work with early AB 99 critics to amend the bill.
“This bill is about acceptance, about a level of understanding for our kids.” – Assembly Member Mike Sprinkle
No one spoke against the bill to protect LGBTQ foster youth in committee or on the Assembly floor. AB 99 did ultimately pass, but on a 26-15 party line vote (with Assembly Member Chris Brooks [D-Las Vegas] absent).
A similar story emerged for AJR 2, except that two Assembly Republicans did speak against it on the floor. Minority Leader Paul Anderson (R-Las Vegas) stressed his vote was not out of homophobia, but rather because “I believe [the marriage ban] should be removed the way it was added.” Assembly Member Elliot Anderson (D-Winchester) gently rebutted his fellow Anderson with a reminder that AJR 2 will go to a final vote of the people if the Legislature approves it in two consecutive sessions. Elliot Anderson knows this quite well, as he sponsored the SJR 13 marriage equality amendment that died in 2015 because Republican leaders refused to allow a vote on it.
Assembly Member Chris Edwards (R-Sunrise Manor) used his floor time to proclaim, “I stand with the four.” He referred to the minority opinions in the Obergefell v. Hodges 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized marriage equality nationwide.
Araujo, also a lead sponsor of AJR 2, kept his message simple.
“We, as a state, must do everything we can to protect love.” – Assembly Member Nelson Araujo
He later got a surprise assist from Assembly Member Lisa Krasner (R-Reno). The stalwart conservative reminded her colleagues of Obergefell as she read from the decision and the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “The U.S. Constitution applies to all U.S. citizens,” stated Krasner.
She was ultimately the only Republican crossover vote to join all 26 Democrats (with Brooks absent) to pass AJR 2. Both this bill and AB 99 move to the Senate.
After the floor votes, Araujo released this statement: “No Nevadan— adult or child— should be discriminated against or punished because of who they are or who they love. With the passage of AJR 2 and AB 99, we are ensuring our state laws reflect our state’s cultural heritage of liberty and personal freedom by protecting all Nevadans from discrimination.”