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Now Nevadans weigh in on gay rights -- the casinos too

May 28, 2009 |  3:13 pm


While Californians plot their next moves in the battle over gay marriage, activists in Nevada are struggling to secure rights for domestic partners.

Despite their libertarian leanings, Nevada voters twice backed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. But the Legislature recently passed a bill that bestows domestic partners – gay and straight – with essentially the same rights as married couples. Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons vetoed the bill -- saying only voters should grant marriage-like rights to unmarried couples – and it’s unclear whether the bill’s supporters can round up enough votes to override it.Jim_Gibbons

But the bill has some powerful backers -- the state’s gaming companies, which are sometimes referred to as Nevada’s Fourth Estate, who are alarmed that, if it fails, LGBT tourists might boycott the Strip.

In the early '90s, gay-rights supporters called for a boycott of Colorado after voters approved a ban on anti-discrimination laws protecting gays and lesbians. Officials said the state lost millions of dollars in convention business. In a recent letter to Nevada lawmakers, Jan Jones, senior vice president of Harrah’s Entertainment, pointedly said the financially ailing state couldn’t afford “to lose any more revenue to other destinations because of a reputation as a place which is not socially or politically the right place to do business or to vacation.”

And MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman recently told The Advocate, a leading gay publication: “We make a very real, concerted effort on a lot of these issues, and to have the sense that you're fighting against your own state is very frustrating.”

Another of the bill's supporters, incidentally, is someone who knows both the downs and the ups of marriage: Dawn Gibbons, the governor's estranged wife.

-- Ashley Powers

Top photo: Las Vegas' iconic welcome sign. Credit: Associated Press.  Bottom photo: Jim Gibbons. Credit: Associated Press

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