LGBT rights in Nevada

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
LGBT rights in Nevada
Nevada (USA)
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1993
Gender identity/expression Transsexual persons may receive new birth certificate after sex reassignment surgery
Family rights
Recognition of
Same-sex marriage legal since 2014
Domestic partnerships legal since 2009
Adoption Yes

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of Nevada are protected by anti-discrimination laws. Same-sex marriage has been legal since 2014. Since 2009 they have had access to domestic partnership status that provides many of the same rights and responsibilities as marriage, though they lacked the same rights to medical coverage as their married counterparts and their parental rights are not as well defined. Since October 8, 2014, marriage has been legal due to the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Sevcik v. Sandoval.

Sodomy laws[edit]

Nevada decriminalized sodomy in 1993, ten years before the U.S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas struck down laws that criminalized private consensual sexual activity. Senator Lori Lipman Brown introduced Senate Bill 466 on May 13, 1993, to decriminalize what the statutes called "infamous crime against nature". At hearings, two doctors linked repealing the sodomy laws with a public health measure to combat the stigma and spread of HIV. Other supporters included Reno, Nevada Rabbi Myra Soifer, former Senators Helen Foley and Jean Ford, gay rights advocate Lee Plotkin, and progressive activist Bob Fulkerson. Opponents included Janine Hansen of the Nevada Eagle Forum and Independent American Party of Nevada and Lynn Chapman who said that repealing the sodomy laws would increase the spread of HIV/AIDS and would "open the floodgate ... in legalizing, condoning and recognizing homosexuality to be on an equal footing with heterosexuality" and lead to "such things as homosexual marriage and adoption of children."[1] In the course of the legislative process, the words "infamous crime against nature" were replaced by "anal intercourse, cunnilingus or fellatio in public".[2] Other amendments, including one to require sex education in schools to provide "factual information regarding the dangers of such activities" of "a homosexual lifestyle or the infamous crime against nature", were defeated.[3][4] Democratic Governor Bob Miller signed the legislation on June 16, 1993.

Anti-discrimination and anti-bullying laws[edit]

During the 1999 Legislative Session, the legislature added prohibition of discrimination based on a person's actual or perceived sexual orientation in public and private employment and public accommodations to state law. In the 2011 Legislative Session, Governor of Nevada Brian Sandoval approved and signed into law three bills, A.B. 211, S.B. 331, and S.B. 368 which prohibit discrimination in areas of employment, housing and public accommodation on the basis of "gender identity or expression." S.B. 331 also prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex at public accommodations, and S.B. 368 also prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. All three laws took effect on October 1, 2011.[5][6]

In May 2015, an anti-bullying bill SB 504 passed the Nevada Legislature.[7] The Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed the anti-bullying bill SB 504 into law days later.[8] The anti-bullying bill SB 504 will take effect from July 1, 2015.[9][10]

Hate crime statutes[edit]

Nevada law provides additional penalties for the commission of crime because of certain actual or perceived characteristics of victim. In 2001, Nevada amended its hate crime laws to included sexual orientation, without addressing gender identity or expression.[citation needed] In 2011, Senator David Parks introduced S.B. 180 to add "gender identity or expression" to Nevada's hate crime laws. One Democrat, John Lee, voted with the Republicans and the bill failed.[11] In the 2013, S.B. 139, which adds "gender identity or expression" to Nevada's hate crime law, was introduced by a bipartisan group and passed the Senate on a vote of 20-1. Senator Hardy, the only vote against the legislation, later said that he should have voted in favor of S.B. 139 after talking with Senator Pat Spearman, the legislature's first out person of color, a pastor and military veteran.[12] The legislation passed the Assembly on a vote of 30-11 on May 14.[13] Governor Brian Sandoval signed the legislation on May 21, 2013.[14] The new law SB139 took effect on October 1, 2013.[15]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Nevada voters approved Question 2, an amendment to the Constitution of Nevada that banned same-sex marriage, by 69.6% in 2000 and 67.1% in 2002.[a]

On May 21, 2009, the state legislature passed the Domestic Partnership Responsibilities Act 2009 to grant both opposite-sex and same-sex couples many of the responsibilities, obligations, rights, entitlements and benefits of marriage under the designation domestic partnership rather than marriage. Governor Jim Gibbons vetoed the legislation, saying he did not personally oppose rights for domestic partners but felt he needed to respect the voters' wishes on the question.[16] On May 30 and 31, both the Assembly and Senate overrode his veto.[17] The law went into effect on October 1, 2009. It exempted both private and public employers from having to provide medical coverage for the domestic partners of their employees even if they did so for their employees' married spouses.[18] Whether other jurisdictions will recognize a Nevada domestic partnership is uncertain, as are some parental rights normally held by married couples.[19] Even within Arizona, the status of domestic partner can be misunderstood and is not always recognized as the equivalent of marriage.[20]

On April 10, 2012, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit, Sevcik v. Sandoval, in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada on behalf of eight same-sex couples, claiming that Nevada's categorization of same-sex domestic partnerships consigns same-sex couples to "a lesser, second-class status" and constitutes a violation of the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection.[21][22] Chief Judge Robert Jones ruled on November 29 that Nevada's denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples does not violate the Equal Protection Clause. Lambda Legal said it would appeal the decision.[23]

In 2013, the state legislature began work on legislation that repeals the constitutional ban and substitutes a gender-neutral definition of marriage.[24][b] The Senate approved the legislation on April 22 on a 12–9 vote.[25] The Assembly approved it on May 23 by a vote of 27-14.[26] The 2015 Nevada Legislature must vote on exactly the same resolution again - for it to be passed on to voters in November 2016.

On October 7, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Question 2, explicitly reversing Judge Robert Jones' district court ruling thus, making same-sex marriages legal.[27]

Federal income tax[edit]

The Internal Revenue Service ruled in in 2013, based on the Supreme Court DOMA ruling, that same sex individuals who have been married in any state where such marriage is legal may file their federal returns as married filing jointly regardless of state of residency.

Gender identity[edit]

Individuals who have undergone sex reassignment surgery will be issued a new birth certificate under a court order.[28]

Public opinion[edit]

A July 2011 Public Policy Polling survey found that a plurality of voters in the state support same sex marriage. 45% of Nevada voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 44% thought it should be illegal and 11% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 77% of Nevada voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 39% supporting same-sex marriage, 38% supporting civil unions but not marriage, 22% favoring no legal recognition and 2% not sure.[29]

An August 2012 Public Policy Polling survey found that a plurality of voters in the state support same sex marriage. 47% of Nevada voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 42% thought it should be illegal and 11% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 80% of Nevada voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 40% supporting same-sex marriage, 40% supporting civil unions but not marriage, 17% favoring no legal recognition and 2% not sure.[30]

A February 2013 poll found majority support for same-sex marriage among Nevada voters. The Retail Association of Nevada poll found that 54% were in favor of it, 43% were opposed, and 3% had no opinion on the matter.[31]

A September 2013 Retail Association of Nevada poll found that 57% of Nevada voters favored same sex marriage, while 36% were opposed. 6% were unsure.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Amendments to the Constitution of Nevada must be approved twice by voters if initiated by the people, or twice by the legislature and once by voters if initiated by the legislature.
  2. ^ The legislature needs to approve it in two different sessions in order for it to appear on the 2016 ballot at the earliest.[33]


  1. ^ Minutes of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, 67th Session, May 24, 1993 
  2. ^ Journal of the Nevada Senate, 67th Session, May 26, 1993, pp. 897–9 
  3. ^ Journal of the Nevada Assembly, Volume 2, 67th Session, June 14, 1993, pp. 1145–47 
  4. ^ Journal of the Nevada Assembly, Volume 2, 67th Session, June 14, 1993, pp. 1147–1151 
  5. ^ Vogelreview, Ed (2011-05-24). "Sandoval signs transgender job discrimination bill". Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  6. ^ Ryan, Cy (2011-06-02). "Bill targeting Strip arena among 27 signed by governor, 4 vetoed". Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ [2]
  9. ^ [3]
  10. ^ [4]
  11. ^ Retrieved 2013-11-02.  Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  12. ^ Ryan, Cy (March 21, 2013). "Nevada Senate votes to cover transgender people under hate crimes statute". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Nevada Assembly passes transgender hate crimes bill – LGBTQ Nation". 2011-04-12. Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  14. ^ Whaley, Sean (May 21, 2013). "Sandoval signs transgender hate crime bill". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved May 22, 2013. 
  15. ^ "SB139". Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  16. ^ Vogel, Ed (May 25, 2009). "Gibbons vetoes domestic partner bill". Las Vegas Review Journal. Retrieved August 10, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Nevada Lawmakers Reject Veto of Domestic Partnership Bill". Fox News. May 31, 2009. Retrieved August 10, 2012. 
  18. ^ Friess, Steve (June 1, 2009). "Nevada Partnership Bill Now Law". New York Times. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  19. ^ "Domestic Partnerships in Nevada". LGBT Topics. ACLU of Nevada. Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  20. ^ Vogel, Ed (August 19, 2012). "Same-sex couple in Henderson upset with hospital's treatment". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  21. ^ Geidner, Chris (10 April 2012). "Lambda Legal Files Federal Lawsuit Seeking Marriage Equality in Nevada". Metro Weekly. Retrieved 10 August 2012. 
  22. ^ "Court to Hear Lambda Legal's Nevada Marriage Case". Lambda Legal. Retrieved 10 August 2012. 
  23. ^ Johnson, Chris (November 29, 2012). "Nev. federal court rules against same-sex marriage". Washington Blade. Retrieved November 30, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Nev. senate panel amends, passes gay marriage bill". Reno Gazette-Journal. April 11, 2013. 
  25. ^ Chereb, Sandra (April 22, 2013). "Gay marriage resolution advances in Nevada". Reno Gazette-Journal. Retrieved April 23, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Nevada Assembly Okays Gay Marriage Resolution". KOLO TV. May 23, 2013. Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  27. ^ [5]
  28. ^ "Human Rights Campaign". Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  29. ^ Public Policy Polling: "NV supports prostitution, gay marriage, but not online poker," August 5, 2011, accessed August 10, 2011
  30. ^ Public Policy Polling: August 28, 2012, accessed August 30, 2012
  31. ^ "54% Support Repealing Ban On Marriage Equality In Nevada". Gayapolis News. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  32. ^ "Nevada Poll" (PDF). RAN. Retrieved 10/3/2013.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  33. ^ Hagar, Ray (April 28, 2013). "Long road ahead for marriage equality in Nevada". Reno Gazette-Journal. Retrieved May 23, 2013.