Nevada voters have overturned an 18-year old amendment and became the first American state to officially remove a ban on same-sex marriage from its state constitution.
Despite the Supreme Court ruling same-sex marriage legal in every state across the country in 2015, an inactive ban from a 2002 amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman remained. Nevada was one of 30 states to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
During Tuesday’s [November 3] election, state residents voted in support of the “Marriage Regardless of Gender Amendment” to have the inactive ban removed from the constitution. According to Nevada secretary of state, about 62% were in favour while 38% of residents voted against the amendment. Now, marriage will be defined as between couples, regardless of gender, although religious organisations and clergypersons will still retain the right to refuse to solemnise a marriage.
“This overwhelming majority should be a reminder that LGBTQ equality is not just the right thing to do, it is exactly what Nevadans want,” said Briana Escamilla, Human Rights Campaign’s Nevada director.
“It’s the fix we need to make here,” André Wade, head of Silver State Equality, told KTNV-TV. “We have discriminatory language in the constitution, and we need to take it out. We know Nevadans value equality, and we want our constitution to mirror that.”
Concerns of a conservative majority on the Supreme Court have increased following the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Removing the same-sex ban thus acts as a way for residents to offer some form of protection for same-sex couples, regardless of any future federal moves in the Supreme Court.