Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
Gay Marriage Target Of Proposed Nevada Amendment
Las Vegas NV Sun 8May00 N1
By Stacy J. Willis: Las Vegas Sun
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA -- Richard Ziser, chairman of the Coalition for the
Protection of Marriage, is hard at work to amend the Nevada
Constitution to prove that religion and politics are inseparable
bedfellows. Ziser is actively circulating petitions that will amend
the constitution during the November vote to include the wording:
"Only a marriage between a male and a female person shall be
recognized and given effect in this state."
"It's not a matter of wanting to deny homosexuals their rights," Ziser
said. "That's not it. It's a moral issue. All of the major world
religions define marriage to be between a man and a woman. All consider
homosexuality to be a sin." Gay marriages are not currently recognized as
legal in Nevada. Ziser fears that with the current passage of the "civil
union" bill in Vermont, Nevada will be forced to recognize marriages under
the U.S. Constitution's full faith and credit clause.
Ziser is the president and chairman of elders at the Canyon Ridge
Christian Church. It is a nondenominational megachurch in northwest Las
Vegas. The Coalition for the Protection of Marriage has tried to organize
with other conservative religious organizations. The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints heavily backs the initiative and has actively
participated in other state ballot initiatives.
Catholic Bishop Daniel Walsh wrote a letter to his priests instructing
them not to circulate petitions in their parishes. "He urged Catholics to
support the family and protect marriage, but he was concerned that this
particular measure would be used to foster ill will against homosexuals, and
we support the dignity of all humans," diocese Chancellor Bob Stoeckig said.
Members of the Clark County Ministerial Association and the National
Conference for Community and Justice's Interfaith Committee decided against
supporting the initiative petition as a group. However, the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints, is known for its success in mobilizing a
"The church has encouraged members to circulate petitions," said Will
Stoddard, LDS Church spokesman in Las Vegas. "Members are encouraged to
volunteer for the coalition. But the petitions are not circulated on church
property or at church meetings." "The church has invited their members to
make direct financial contributions to the coalition, but as a church we
never have held any ill will of any kind against those who profess to be
homosexual or have those tendencies," Stoddard said.
Currently thirty-two states have passed similar legislation that
recognizes only heterosexual marriages, with California being the most
recent. "If a same-sex marriage is legitimized by the state, then (gays and
lesbians) have the full authority of the state to go into schools and teach
this as a legitimate alternative to marriage between a man and woman," Ziser
said. "The Bible says that it is not."
Kathy Gillespie, Acting Director of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center,
calls the petition "divisive and unnecessary." "We view this issue as an
equal-rights issue. There are certain rights that marriage conveys. All we
are asking for is equal rights and equal protections.
"If I am sick and incapacitated, I want my partner to have the authority
to talk to the doctor for me. If I die, I want my partner to inherit my
estate. Many times, if we go to the extra effort to get lawyers to draft
these documents without marriage, they are ignored," Gillespie said. The
Coalition for Unity, a statewide organization supported by the gay and
lesbian community along with heterosexual supporters, is fighting the
The LDS Church has been active in combating gay marriage. LDS
leaders have urged members to donate to the anti-gay marriage effort in
California, which voters passed 61 percent to 39 percent in March. In 1998
the LDS Church contributed more than $1.1 million defeat gay-marriage
proposals in Hawaii and Alaska. The Nevada issue is expected to turn into
an advertising war by late summer.