Nevada state senator comes out during marriage equality vote

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 11:42 EDT
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Nevada State Sen. Kelvin Atkinson with President Barack Obama. Photo: Atkinson for State Senate.
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A Nevada state senator announced to his colleagues on Monday evening that he is gay, in comments delivered ahead of a key vote to repeal the state’s ban on same sex marriage.

“I’m black. I’m gay,” Sen. Kelvin Atkinson (D) said, in a quote caught by The Las Vegas Sun. “I know this is the first time many of you have heard me say that I am a black, gay male.”

He reportedly added: “If this [bill] hurts your marriage, then your marriage was in trouble in the first place.”

The vote passed 12-9, splitting along party lines with a single Republican, Sen. Ben Keickhefer, breaking ranks to join them. The Sun noted that Keickhefer did not utter a single word during the debate period.

The bill begins the process of repealing the state’s same sex marriage ban and implementing universal marriage rights, regardless of gender. It still has to be passed by the House, where Democrats hold a strong majority, and then again by both chambers in 2015. If all three of those future votes succeed, the measure will appear on the state’s 2016 ballot, putting the question of equality to the state’s voters.

A survey taken in February (PDF) by the Retail Association of Nevada found that 54 percent of the state’s voters support repealing Nevada’s same sex marriage ban.

Photo: Atkinson for Nevada State Senate.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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