Nevada Senator Comes Out During Gay Marriage Vote

State senate votes 12-9 in favor of repealing ban

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 23, 2013 7:14 AM CDT | Updated Apr 23, 2013 7:55 AM CDT

(Newser) – A big step forward for gay marriage in Nevada last night—and a dramatic one at that. No, the state Senate didn't bust out into joyful song after the 12-9 vote in favor of repealing the state's ban on same-sex marriage (that reaction belongs to New Zealand's parliament), but something perhaps more noteworthy did occur: State Sen. Kelvin Atkinson publicly came out, reports the Las Vegas Sun. "I'm black. I'm gay," said the Democrat in what the Sun describes as a "trembling" voice. "I know this is the first time many of you have heard me say that I am a black, gay male."

It was one of many deeply personal comments on SJR13, which would not just repeal the ban but also force the state to recognize marriages of any gender. "I don't know if I'll be allowed in church on Sunday," said Sen. Ruben Kihuen, a Catholic. Mormon Sen. Justin Jones said, "I would rather lose an election than look my [gay] brother-in-law in the eye every Sunday and tell him he doesn't have the same rights as I do." Only one Republican sided with the Democrats; one who didn't, Sen. Mark Hutchison, had this to say: "Until about a year ago this was the view of the president of the United States. I do not recall his supporters labeling him as intolerant, or insensitive or hypocritical or unenlightened." The Las Vegas Review-Journal explains what's next for SJR13: It should pass the Assembly, where Democrats have a 12-vote advantage; it will then need to be passed by the Legislature again in 2015 before going before voters a year later.

Nevada Senator Kelvin Atkinson announced he is gay during a same-sex marriage vote yesterday.   (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)
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