An 18-year-old ban on same-sex marriage have been overturned by Nevada voters, making it the first US state to enshrine gay couples’ right to marry in its constitution.
Question 2 on Nevada ballots had asked voters whether they support an amendment recognizing marriage “as between couples regardless of gender.” The “Marriage Regardless of Gender Amendment” also asked if religious organizations and clergy retained the right “to refuse to solemnize a marriage.”
Before now, Nevada is one of 30 states with a constitution that defined marriage as strictly between a man and a woman. But the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 ruled state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.
However on Tuesday November 3, nearly two-thirds of Nevada voters said the state’s constitution should be amended to remove a provision stating marriage is only between a man and a woman.
The results were 62 percent in favor and 38 percent against according to the Nevada secretary of state, with more than three-fourths of the votes counted.
Equality Nevada President Chris Davin told NBC News;
“It feels good that we let the voters decide. The people said this, not judges or lawmakers. This was direct democracy — it’s how everything should be.”
While a 2002 voter referendum originally changed the Nevada Constitution to define marriage as between “a male and female person”, Same-sex marriage wasn’t recognized in the state until 2014 after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled bans in Nevada and Idaho violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
A year later, the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges invalidated same-sex marriage bans nationwide.