Carson City — Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR) 2, the bill that would remove the 20 words put in the Nevada Constitution in 2002 defining marriage between one man and one women will be heard by the Assembly Committee on Legislative Operation and Elections on Tuesday, February 19 at 4 pm. Room 3142 of the Nevada Legislature Building.
The public hearing is expected to draw a crowd, as the fight for equality is not over, especially in the current political climate in the United States and composition of the United State Supreme Court (SCOTUS). In 2015, SCOTUS found in the Obergefell v Hodges case, it was discriminatory to not allow same gender marriages, allowing marriage rights for same gender couples in all 50 states. In October 2014, Nevada was granted same gender marriage equality through a 9th Circuit District Court decision in the Sevcik V Sandoval case, making the 20 words in the Nevada constitution unenforceable. To correct the language in the state’s constitution, the legislature has to approve a bill twice before sending it to the people for a referendum to approve the bill.
The public hearing before the Assembly committee will have time for those in favor to speak during the meeting. The Committee will also be taking live comment from The Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas. If you are unable to attend to provide public comment you can do so online at www.leg.state.nv.us/App/Opinions/80th2019/ then select AJR2 when it asks for type or bill number. It is important that people comment in favor of the bill. If heading to Carson (or in Las Vegas) and planning on testifying, you need to make yourself available when the chairman calls for those in favor to speak.
Most Opposition in Nevada has come from Janine Hansen Triggs and her work with Nevada Families and Nevada Eagle Family Forum. The Collation for the Protection of Marriage, who sponsored Question 2 adding the wording current non enforceable in the state constitution, has also been present at committee hearings. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the collation had no standing in the Sevcik v Sandoval case.
Last session those against had greatly dwindled. Those in favor must continue the fight to remove the language from the constitution, until marriage equality is set in law in the Battle Born state until insured regardless of what SCOTUS might decide in the future.
In 2015 Republicans, who had retaken control of the Senate and Assembly in Nevada, simply killed SJR13 (which would have done the same thing as AJR2) by not holding a hearing on the bill. In 2017, Republicans felt AJR2 was a moot point following the SCOTUS decision in 2015. The words in the state’s constitution needs to be removed.
The Bill is making its second appearance before the legislature, as is the process to amend the state constitution before going to a vote of the people in 2020, if passed. There has been a large swing in favor or marriage equality in Nevada up to near 64% in favor from the 32% the favored it in the 2002 approval of Question 2 which banned same gender marriage.
During the 2017 legislative session, AB229 was approved and signed by the governor. The bill was designed to make marriage gender neutral in Nevada. It was approved in the Assembly 27-14 and in the Senate 19-2. Governor Brian Sandoval signed the bill into law which reads: Except as otherwise provided in this section, two persons, regardless of gender, at least 18 years of age, not nearer of kin than second cousins or cousins of the half blood, and not having a spouse living, may be joined in marriage. If marriage equality is ever over turned by SCOTUS, AB229 would be null and void as the original language approved by voters in 2000 and 2002 would be in affect again. Changing the language through AJR2, insures marriage quality in Nevada. The process to remove the language is now in the second of three steps to change the constitution. Therefore there is the need to make sure AJR2 passes both houses of the legislature and to a vote of the people.
To watch the public hearing on Tuesday, February 19 at 4 pm, go to the Nevada Legislature website (leg.state.nv.us) click on schedule of meetings and scroll to find Assembly Legislative Operations and Elections. On the left hand side where the time is listed it will say “View”. Click on view and the stream will open. Streams are usually available about 10 minutes before the meeting begins