The State Senate advanced two key LGBTQ civil rights bills, with one of them now heading to Governor Brian Sandoval’s (R) desk. It was perfect timing, as today is LGBTQ Equality Day at the Nevada Legislature. Both bills passed on big bipartisan votes.
Last month, the SB 201 conversion therapy ban on LGBTQ youth had its initial hearing. The same week, the Assembly passed AB 99 to protect LGBTQ foster youth on a party-line vote. Today, they both received their full Senate floor votes.
Just before Senate floor session, LGBTQ Equality Day activists gathered at the downstairs Senate hearing room to discuss today’s agenda. Equality Day organizer Kimi Cole made a quick pitch for SB 201 when explaining the bills they’re lobbying.
“Conversion therapy is one of the most unnatural acts I’ve ever seen.” – Kimi Cole
A long list of medical professionals and LGBTQ civil rights activists have called for an end to conversion therapy, especially done on minors. Senator David Parks (D-Paradise) referred to this in urging his colleagues to vote for his bill. “Conversion therapy…Is a dangerous, unscientific, unethical practice.”
In speaking for an otherwise unrelated bill, Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson (R-Henderson) announced his votes for SB 201 and AB 99, also signaling additional Republican votes for both bills. The Senate ultimately voted 15-5 to pass SB 201. Just Senators Don Gustavson (R-Reno), Joe Hardy (R-Boulder City), Pete Goicoechea (R-Eureka), Scott Hammond (R-Las Vegas), and Becky Harris (R-Enterprise) voted against.
Though Hammond voted against SB 201, he recalled his own history as a foster child and an adoptive parent in announcing his vote for AB 99.
“Every child is distinctly unique. […] We are talking about our most vulnerable children.” – Senator Scott Hammond
The Senate ultimately voted 18-2 to pass AB 99. Only Senators Don Gustavson and Joe Hardy voted against. Senator Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas) was marked absent and excused on both votes.
After a difficult 2015 session, LGBTQ civil rights activists are more encouraged by the tone and content coming from this legislative session. If the Assembly concurs this week, AB 99 will soon reach Governor Sandoval’s desk. Activists are confident Sandoval will sign this and several other LGBTQ civil rights bills in the coming weeks.