Lawmakers vote on domestic partners bill |

Lawmakers vote on domestic partners bill

Brendan Riley / Associated Press

CARSON CITY ” A domestic partner measure that Gov. Jim Gibbons has threatened to veto won approval on a 12-9 Nevada Senate vote late Tuesday and moved to the state Assembly where it’s expected to get favorable treatment.

SB283, giving domestic partners, whether gay or straight, most of the same rights as married couples, was one of the last bills approved late Tuesday as state lawmakers wrapped up long floor sessions scheduled because of a deadline to send measures from one house to the other.

SB283 moved to the Assembly for final legislative action after lawmakers rejected an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, who said the bill went “too far” in making a domestic partnership the same as a marriage.

“A rose is a rose is a rose,” Raggio said in arguing unsuccessfully for the amendment watering down the bill.

Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, the openly gay sponsor of SB283, opposed the amendment, saying, “Sadly, this is no different than the way things are today.” Parks also rejected criticism that his bill clashed with Nevada’s 2002 “Defense of Marriage” constitutional amendment.

Parks also noted that the bill was amended to ensure that public employers wouldn’t be required to provide health care benefits to a staffer’s partner, so there’s no fiscal impact. But he added the measure doesn’t prohibit a public or private employer from volunteering such benefits.

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The Republican governor, responding to reporters’ questions last week, said he’d veto SB283 if it reaches his desk because “I just don’t believe in it.”

Opponents of Parks’ bill said that as written it won’t get enough votes in the Senate to override a veto by Gibbons. An override would take 14 votes, a two-thirds majority.

During earlier hearings on the bill, Richard Ziser of the conservative Coalition for the Protection of Marriage argued that it was unconstitutional and “simply another name for marriage” for same-sex couples.

But Gary Peck of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada termed SB283 “yet another important step forward in the fight for equality for all Nevadans, regardless of sexual orientation.”