Tag Archives: Nevada gay marriage


Cattle RoundupRecommended Reading:  The Nevada blogs have some posts well worth the click and read time — See Nevada Progressive’s “Freedom,” on the efforts to get rid of the Nevada gay marriage ban.  Meanwhile in Virginia, a federal judge has overturned their ban saying, “Wright Allen showed no hesi­ta­tion in overturning the state constitutional amendment, saying none of the reasons proponents offer for denying same-sex marriages make legitimate governmental interests.” [WaPo] Just a helpful reminder:  The U.S. Senate confirmed Wright Allen’s nomination to the bench on a 96-0 vote in 2011. [rc 069]

** Don’t miss the Sebelius piece on the Pathology We Just Keep Enabling, or how we must learn to live with our reality challenged neighbors like Sharron Angle.  However bemusing the antics of Mrs. Angle, her message advocating the suppression of voting rights is serious, and other advocates have adopted or are considering the adoption of strategies to suppress the turn out of voters.  Cincinnati, OH has found a way to make voting as inconvenient as possible. [HuffPo] The Tea Party controlled North Carolina legislature has enacted some of the most repressive voting laws in the country, and people are beginning to act. [TruthOut]  Republicans in Florida want to block the use of the UF Student Union as a polling place [BayNews9] and Manatee County, FL eliminated polling stations in minority heavy areas of its jurisdiction. [TP] The commissioner made this alarming statement about voting rights: “I wouldn’t have any problem making it harder. I would want them to vote as badly as I want to vote. I want the people of the state of Florida to want to vote as bad as that person in Africa who’s willing to walk 200 miles…This should not be easy.”  Reminder, we use the voting process to determine the will of the people, not the fortitude of the individuals in the lines.

** When your party has to send out a memo saying your endorsement process doesn’t cancel out your primary, there are some serious organization issues in play.  See Ralston Reports on the latest in the continuing soap opera which is the Nevada Republican Party.

** The Reno Gazette Journal has spoken to its motives in wanting access to Public Employee’s Retirement System data, but the intentions of a certain newspaper in the southland aren’t quite so clear.  Take note of this post from February 2nd on Nevada Public Employee Focus.   There is now, and has been, a coordinated attack on defined benefit retirement systems.  Opponents first publicize the “trouble” the pension systems have, or their alleged lack of solvency.  The second tactic is to issue derogatory statements about the “luxury” of public employee retirement benefits, hoping to split public employees and private sector employees politically.   What we ought to be doing is fighting for defined benefit pension plans in the private sector, not disestablishing them in the public sector.

** I wouldn’t have believed this, but it’s documented: “South Carolina policy requiring a fee and permit to feed homeless begins.” [ATTP]  There’s more information here:

“The most recent report, Out of Sight – Out of Mind?, which surveyed advocates and service providers in 50 of the largest U.S. cities, found that 86 percent of the cities surveyed had laws that prohibited or restricted begging, while 73 percent prohibited or restricted sleeping and/or camping. Over one-third of the cities surveyed have initiated crackdowns on homeless people, according to the survey respondents, and almost half of the cities have engaged in police “sweeps” in the past two years.”

A crack down policy might literally sweep the homeless off the streets, but this is simply mean spirited if not done in conjunction with efforts to find housing or shelter for those who need it.

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Ziser Rides Again – The Sole Support for Nevada’s Gay Marriage Ban?

As the controversy continues in some quarters over the decision by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to haul down the now tattered “No Same Sex Marriage” banner, and let the Sevcik v. Sandoval case drop quietly, most of the arguments that can be made in favor of a ban on same sex marriages seem to have been made.

The legal issues revolve around whether or not a court has the jurisdiction to render a decision concerning laws related to marriage.   The answer so far is Yes.  The Supreme Court dipped into this territory in the 1967 Loving v. Virginia case in which Virginia’s ban on inter-racial marriage was struck down as unconstitutional.  Justice Warren was quick to point out that the ban was contrary to the equal protection of the laws according to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.   The inclusion of racial classifications in marriage statutes was declared unconstitutional.

More recently, opponents of same sex marriage have made the claim that homosexuals do not fall into the forbidden “racial classification,” and therefore don’t have recourse under the Loving Standard.  This reasoning requires the assumption that if discrimination isn’t racial then it isn’t discrimination, however it’s already settled that other accepted ‘classifications’ (women) may suffer from discriminatory treatment.

Opponents have also argued that while an act may, in fact, discriminate against homosexual individuals, if the intent wasn’t discriminatory then the outcomes cannot be declared unconstitutional.  If this standard were to be applied then we have all manner of problems in the form of Gee Whiz Defenses.

“Gee Whiz, your honor, we didn’t mean to discriminate when we enacted a statute which said: ‘No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.'” [DOMA]  “We just meant to ‘defend marriage.'”

However, when we start talking about the effect of “any public act, record or judicial proceeding” the implications are obvious, and obviously discriminatory.

Thus the specter of yet more cases challenging the same sex marriage ban across the country, in Texas [CBS], in Kentucky [ABC], and in Utah and Oklahoma. [NewYorker] The Nevada case remains with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and without much enthusiasm from Nevada officials or candidates for office. [LVRJ]

Who’s Left On The Field?

So, who’s left fighting on behalf of the same sex marriage ban in Nevada? In terms of the Sevcik v. Sandoval case the lone litigant supporting the ban is the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage.

Do we remember Richard Ziser, now the Director of Nevada Concerned Citizens and current member of the Board of the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage? [AlOE, pdf]  This would be the self same Richard Ziser who in 2004 demonstrated to the Nevada Republican Party just how badly a person could lose to incumbent Senator Harry Reid; Ziser managed 35.12%, Reid scored a hefty 61.05%. [NVsos]  Even the much mocked campaign of Nevada GOP candidate Sharron Angle garnered 44.55% of the vote in the 2010 elections. [NVsos]

On May 8, 2013 Mr. Ziser’s organization filed testimony (pdf)with the Nevada Legislature’s Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections concerning SJR 13, which would have removed the ban on gay marriages in the state.  His statements don’t sound all that far removed from the pronouncements he made 13 years ago.  Gay marriage will cause the Earth to stop spinning?

Well, perhaps not all that but at least we are to be reassured by Mr. Ziser that if the ban on gay marriage is removed in Nevada terrible things will occur because marriage is to bring men and women together for the purpose of the procreation of our species.   If we follow this logic we can extrapolate easily to the obvious. If the public purpose of marriage is procreation then why not, as many have scoffed, ban marriages between persons who are not of child bearing age? Between men and women who are unable to procreate?  But, there’s more.  Mr. Ziser believes he has an answer for that one:

“To exclude specific heterosexual couples from marriage based on their intentions or infertility would require intrusive inquiries and the drawing of arbitrary and imprecise lines. While not all heterosexual couples do reproduce, it is indisputable that only heterosexual couples can do so by natural means. No homosexual couples can do so. That fact provides a clear bright line for limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.”

Evidently, Mr. Ziser believes that documenting fertility is an invasion of personal privacy.  We might wonder about his stance on transvaginal ultrasound examinations in cases of an abortion?  Would that be an “intrusive inquiry?”  Would the conclusions be prone to drawing “arbitrary and imprecise lines?”  However, more to the point, isn’t it just as readily apparent  that a couple of octogenarians aren’t having intimate relations for the purpose of procreation?

For Mr. Ziser the limits on marriage are definitional — marriage isn’t between immediate family members, or polyandrous, or polygamous, or pedophilic. This argument doesn’t respond to the essential question, it merely dances around it saying that the state can define marriage and the current definition satisfies him.

But for Mr. Ziser, and his ilk, the problems are associated with the fact that some companies might have to offer same sex couples benefits available to heterosexual couples — and “they” have higher health care costs.  Unfortunately for Mr. Ziser, the numbers don’t support this rather bigoted conclusion.  A University of Massachusetts study looked at the health care situation for members of the LGBT community and found “Policies that confer protections to same-sex couples may be effective in reducing health care use and costs among sexual minority men.”  And,

“Additionally, previous research has found substantial economic benefits of same-sex marriage policies that are accrued to businesses (e.g., increased revenues).46 We extend these findings by documenting additional economic benefits of pro-gay marriage laws to sexual minority men through the reduction of their health care expenditures.” [AJPH]

When his attempt to convince us that business will be burdened, and LBGT individuals have higher health costs doesn’t wash, Ziser has the old School Argument.  “Homosexual relationships will be identical to heterosexual ones.”  No, what’s taught in sexual education classes will be determined by the school district’s policy on sexual education.  We can only hope that a district will be responsible enough to teach kids truly safer sexual practices, and won’t spend a semester reciting the mantra “just say no.”

Perhaps Mr. Ziser sees the expansion of rights to others as an attack on his individual beliefs?  This interpretation  may come closer to his concerns.  Freedom of conscience, he says, would be in “constant tension” with gay rights.  Yes, and when has this not been the case?  If one’s “conscience” forbid interracial marriage, then was there tension?  If one’s “conscience” forbid medical treatment for a baby with pneumonia, then was there tension?  If one’s “conscience” espoused polygamy, then was there tension?  There will always be tension between those whose interpretation of revealed truth is at odds with the multiplicity of beliefs and “consciences” in any community.  The larger the community, the greater the capacity for “tension.”

Other Ziser admonitions have a vaguely hysterical ring to them. “Fewer children will be raised by an mother and father?”  “Legalization of homosexual “marriage” would mean that, for the first time in history, society would be placing its highest stamp of official government approval on the deliberate creation of permanently motherless or fatherless households for children.” Take a deep breath and look at the demographic statistics.  “More Children Will Grow Up Fatherless.”   What we do know is that kids in a stable home environment grow up with fewer problems than those who don’t.  The format is less important than the stability.

Ziser is convinced that birth rates will fall, and then he indulges in a bit of gay-bashing — “they less likely to have committed relationships” — less likely than whom?  “They” are “less likely to monogamous and sexually exclusive relationships.”  Again, compared to whom?  You get the drift.  And, the drift becomes rather more intense.

By Ziser’s lights “demands for polygamy will grow.” Thankfully, Mr. Ziser’s commentary stopped at that point.   We can only hope that he stops before the current litigation becomes ever more expensive, time consuming, and ultimately futile.

References and Recommended Reading:

Legal Cases: Sevcik v. Sandoval, 911 F. Supp. 2d 996 – Dist. Court, D. Nevada 2012  [Scholar] Sevcik v. Sandoval, Appellants Brief (pdf); Appellee Sandoval’s Answering Brief (pdf); U.S. v. Windsor Decision (Scribd); Amicus Brief U.S. v. Windsor; Windsor Plaintiffs Brief, SCOTUS (Scribd) jurisdiction;  Merits Brief, Amicus filing Family Research Council, U.S. v. Windsor (Scribd);  Sevcik v. Sandoval, motion for leave to withdraw brief, Nevada [Scribd] Sevcik v. Sandoval, district court [Scribd]

Commentary: Nevada gay marriage decisions creates uncertainty, SF Chronicle, Feb 11, 2014.  Nevada ends fight to ban gay marriage, Reuters, Feb 10, 2014. Same Sex Marriage Roundup, Los Angeles Times, Feb 10, 2014.  The Widening  Impact of the Gay Marriage Decision, New Yorker, Jan 27, 2014.  Gay Marriage Ban Supports Slips in Nevada, New York Times, Feb 10, 2014.   Lambda Legal Nevada Marriage Case Granted Expedited Hearing, Lambda Legal Blog, February 12, 2014.  Sevcik v. Sandoval and Jackson v. Abercrombie, APA, Amicus Brief.  Follow the Leader, Nevada Progressive, Feb 12, 2014.  No Leg Left to Stand On, Nevada Progressive, Feb 11, 2014.

Legalising gay marriage may improve health and reduce healthcare costs, Guardian, Feb 7, 2013.  Refuting Anti Gay Rights Arguments, ProgCyn, Josh Sager.

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SJR 13: Repeal Ban On Same Sex Marriage In Nevada

gay wedding cakeWhat a difference ten years makes.    The Nevada Marriage Amendment passed in 2000 by a 69.62% in favor to only 30.38% in favor of same sex marriage, [Ballot] and when the measure was put before the voters in 2002 the percentages were almost identical, 67.2% in favor of a ban on same sex marriages and 32.8% in favor. [Ballot]  Popular opinion has taken a dramatic shift — when the Retail Association of Nevada polled the concept last month 54% called for repealing the amendment.  Only one subset, those over 65, preferred to support the amendment.  [LVSun]

There are several arguments in favor of repealing the ban on same sex marriages, ranging from the moral and theological to the purely mercenary.  Since this blog generally takes an interest in economics, let’s explore those mercenary aspects first.

When the state of Illinois was considering enacting same sex marriage statutes the Williams Institute (UCLA Law) studied the economic aspects and reported:

“The state’s wedding business would see an increase by $74 million, and an increase of $29 million in tourism expenditures made by out-of-town guests over the same period.   Total state and local tax revenue would rise by $8.5 million, including an estimated $1-2 million in local sales taxes. The first year would produce $5.4 million of this spending. The boost in wedding spending will generate approximately 281 jobs in the state.” [WilliamsInst]

The measure to allow same sex marriage passed the Illinois House and now sits in the state House awaiting a vote. [POL]

Five years after the Massachusetts same sex marriage provisions were enacted the numbers are in: “Nearly half of married same-sex couples in Massachusetts spent $5,000 or more on wedding-related expenses. Nearly one-tenth spent over $20,000. ”  and “Same-sex couples averaged 16 out-of-state guests at their weddings, and a quarter of them had 21 out-of-state guests. ” [MassLive]  Those would be guests, as in people in hotels and resorts.  No, we can’t assume that this has created an economic boom, but it every little bit helps.

New York’s gay marriage laws boosted the New York City income by $259 million in the first year.  [CNN money]

So, here we sit with wedding chapels galore, with a tourism based state economy, and we’re NOT considering allowing gay marriages?

State Senator Tick Segerblom (D-LV) has introduced a bill to repeal Nevada’s ban on gay marriages, SJR 13, to repeal the limitations on marriages in Nevada.  The resolution is currently co-sponsored by Spearman, Parks, Atkinson, Ford, Denis, Kihuen, Manendo, Woodhouse, Elliot Anderson, Ohrenschall, Martin, Healey, Aizley, Hogan, Swank .   Here’s hoping support for this bill increases.

We’ve already determined that same sex coupled exist, and should be allowed the benefit of civil unions.  For some opponents of the repeal that should be enough.  However, doesn’t this sound ominously like saying to a mixed race couple — “You can have a civil union, but you cannot marry?”  Then there’s the religious argument,  “Same sex marriage violates God’s plan.”

There are uses and misuses of religion, and Geoffrey Stone’s insightful article in the Huffington Post summarizes the misuse of religion in American society:

“During the civil rights struggle, for example, segregationists frequently invoked biblical authority for the separation of the races. The Rev. James E. Burks of Bayview Baptist Church in Norfolk, Virginia, for example, insisted that God had separated the races and that “when man sets aside the plain teachings” of the Bible and “disregards the boundary lines God Himself has drawn, man assumes a prerogative that belongs to God alone.” Similarly, discrimination against women was often justified by reference to “divine ordinance.” Such arguments have no place in the American constitutional system.”

The violation of religious principles argument is often employed to support the ban on same sex marriage.   It is contended that if we enact same sex marriage laws, then we are violating the freedom of religious practices.  No, if anything is violated it’s the power of one segment of our religious population to impose their views on everyone else.  This is NOT discrimination, and the fundamentalists are not being victimized.  They are perfectly free to practice their religions, they are just not perfectly free to impose their beliefs on the rest of us.

Again, from Stone’s article:

“I understand and respect the strong and sincere feelings of those who think that the marriage of same-sex couples is incompatible with their religious beliefs. But they cannot legitimately or with a proper respect for the American system of law and justice attempt to impose those beliefs on those who disagree. They have every right not to marry a person of the same-sex and they have every right not to officiate at the marriage of a same-sex couple, but they have no right — no right — to attempt to prevent the government from recognizing such marriages because they offend their religious beliefs.”


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