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Nevadans to consider five ballot questions this year – Part 2

The Pahrump Valley Times is presenting a series detailing each of the five statewide ballot questions that voters will be tasked with deciding this November.

Originally planned as a two-part series, it will instead be presented in five parts, each focusing on one of the issues up for voters’ consideration in the 2020 General Election. Part one, centered on the proposal to remove the Nevada State Board of Regents from the Nevada Constitution, was presented in the Sept. 18 edition of the Pahrump Valley Times and can be viewed at pvtimes.com

Same-sex marriage

Nevada Statewide Ballot Question 2 is another proposed amendment of the state constitution and is considered by many to be something of a housekeeping item, as it calls for aligning the state’s constitutional language with a ruling made by the U.S. Supreme Court five years ago.

As it stands today, the Nevada State Constitution only recognizes marriage between a male and a female but this is essentially a moot point, because a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling has already declared laws banning same-sex marriage to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution and therefore unenforceable. Despite the state constitution’s definition excluding such relationships, same-sex marriage has been recognized in the Silver State for several years and this ballot question aims to make the state’s constitutional definition more inclusionary.

“With the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex marriage has been legal across the country since 2015. Accordingly, the unenforceable provision in the Nevada Constitution that recognizes only a marriage between a man and a woman should be removed,” the argument for passage, included in the documentation provided by the Nevada secretary of state’s office for voters’ consideration, reads. “Eliminating discriminatory language and requiring the state of Nevada and its political subdivisions to recognize all legal marriages regardless of gender will ensure marriage equality for all Nevadans.”

The argument in favor of passage also notes that Question 2 allows for freedom of religion by preserving the right of any clergy member or religious organization to refuse to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony.

That doesn’t mean there is no opposition to the passage of Question 2. In the argument against passage it states that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision regarding same-sex marriage was a narrow call with justices voting 5-4 in favor of recognizing same-sex marriage. If that decision were to be overturned at some point in the future, the amended definition of marriage in the state constitution would once again be at odds with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The argument against also touches on the fact that Nevadans ratified an amendment to the state constitution in 2000 and 2002 that defined marriage as being only between a man and a woman. “The Nevada Constitution should reflect the will of the people of Nevada and not be changed in reaction to a court decision that can be overturned,” the argument against passage states.

It also goes on to tout the religious reasons behind opposition to same-sex marriages, noting that for many religious persons, there is a belief that same-sex marriage undermines traditional marriage.

It also argues that same-sex couples have the ability to establish a “domestic partnership” and therefore they do not need to be included in the state’s definition of “marriage.” However, the argument for passage rebuts that statement, contending that a “domestic partnership” is not equal to a marriage, as it does not come with the same benefits, such as family-related Social Security benefits and joint filing of federal income tax returns.

To review the digest as well as the full arguments in favor and against each ballot question on the 2020 General Election Ballot visit www.nvsos.gov and click on the “Elections” link, followed by the “2020 Petitions” link.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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