After more than an hour of late night testimony, the Nevada Senate took its first step toward legalizing marriage equality with a "near party-line vote to repeal" the state's "one man, one-man" definition of marriage, reports KLAS.
The Nevada Senate voted 12-9 in favor of Senate Joint Resolution 13, which begins the process to repeal the same-sex marriage ban from the state constitution. Only one Republican voted with Democrats. If passed by lawmakers this year and in 2015, the measure would go to voters in 2016 for ratification.
The vote included the emotional floor speech of one state senator who publicly announced for the first time that he is gay. Sen. Kelvin Atkinson becomes one of only a handful of Black openly gay or lesbian state legislators. Listen AFTER THE JUMP ...
In a particularly emotional moment, Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, publicly declared for the first time that he is gay. "I’m black. I'm gay," Atkinson said in a trembling voice after describing his father's interracial re-marriage that would have been banned earlier in American history. "I know this is the first time many of you have heard me say that I am a black, gay male."
Atkinson went on to rebut the argument that gay marriage threatens any other definition of marriage. "If this hurts your marriage, then your marriage was in trouble in the first place," he said.
The North Las Vegas Democrat becomes the state senate's second out Black lawmaker. Patricia Spearman—a Black openly lesbian minister—defeated a powerful two-term incumbent senator in the 2012 Democratic primary.
Atkinson becomes the nation's sixth serving Black LGBT state legislator, joining Georgia's Simone Bell and Keisha Waites, as well as Mary Washington of Maryland and North Carolina's Marcus Brandon. Georgia state Rep. Rashad Taylor lost his re-election bid in August 2012. Taylor became Georgia's first openly gay male legislator when he came out in 2011.