Summarized by Kent Larsen
Anti-Gay Marriage Petitions Filed in Nevada
Las Vegas NV Sun (AP) 14Jun00 N1
By Sandra Chereb: Associated Press
RENO, NEVADA -- The petitions gathered in a statewide petition drive by the
Coalition for the Protection of Marriage were to be filed at 10 am yesterday
at the county clerk or voter registrar office in each of Nevada's 17
counties. The petition will put an amendment to Nevada's constitution on the
ballot, blocking recognition of same-sex unions in other states. According
to the Associated Press, the petition has the support of the LDS Church.
Similar in its intent to the so-called Knight Initiative passed recently in
California, the amendment would strengthen Nevada law, which already bars
gay marriage in the state. In order for the amendment to pass, voters must
approve it in November, and then approve it again in 2002.
Richard Ziser, president of the Coalition, says the group has collected
"significantly more" than the minimum 44,009 petition signatures needed. The
signatures on the filed petitions will be checked for validity by election
officials. Once the signatures have been checked, the amendment will appear
on the ballot.
The proposed amendment reads, "Only a marriage between a male and a female
person shall be recognized and given effect in this state." Coalition
president Richard Ziser, who is also president of the Canyon Ridge Christian
Church, says that the measure is meant to keep Nevada from having to
recognize gay marriages or "civil unions" like the measure approved recently
in Vermont."We need to be clear that we will not recognize same-gender
marriages performed in another state," said Ziser. "Homosexuality is a sin."
Like in California, the measure faces opposition from gays, lesbians, and
heterosexual supporters. They plan to fight the measure with a "Decline to
Sign" advertising campaign, funded primarily by private, in-state donations.
The group also is courting out-of-state support.
"We have been quietly marshaling our forces," said Bob Fulkerson of PLAN the
nonprofit group supporting the fight against the proposed amendment. The
Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), says that the issue in the
fight is discrimination, not the sanctity of marriage. "Since they started
this petition drive, there have been at least a thousand legal divorces in
the state, hundreds of domestic abuse cases, drug and alcohol problems and
innumerable other damaging social problems that lead to the breakdown of the
institution of marriage... If they are concerned about the sanctity of that
institution, why don't they put their dollars and energy toward addressing
those social problems? Instead, they have singled out one group and chosen
to discriminate against them. This is an equal rights issue," Fulkerson said.
The group says it is ready for the campaign, "We're gearing up for a
two-year battle. We didn't choose this fight, but have no doubt, we're in it
for the long run," Fulkerson said.
But Ziser disagrees that the issue is discrimination, "This initiative is
not about those issues. It is about protecting the institution of marriage
as being between a man and a woman. It is about protecting Nevada laws. And
I can guarantee you that the faith-based organizations who support us have
programs devoted to those social problems."