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September 20, 2014

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Supporters celebrate passage of gay rights bill

Bill became law after Assembly overrode governor’s veto

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Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun

Charlie Stron hugs his partner, Ricardo Rose, while listening to state Sen. David Parks speak during a domestic partnership celebration Thursday at the Rio. Stron and Rose plan to be among the first in line to register for their domestic partnership on Oct. 1, the day of their four-year anniversary.

Domestic Partner Registry Act celebration

Six-year partners Karlie Gabour, 23, and Savannah Miele, 22, cuddle in each others' arms while listening to speakers during a domestic partnership celebration Thursday at the Rio. Gabour and Miele look forward to their opportunity to register as domestic partners Oct. 1. Launch slideshow »

The gay and lesbian community and supporters on Thursday celebrated the passage of a bill granting gay couples the same legal rights as married couples, providing they register with the secretary of state starting Oct. 1.

Five groups — the American Civil Liberties Union, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Stand Out for Equality and the Human Rights Campaign — gathered at the Rio to celebrate last month’s passage of Senate Bill 283.

Tod Story, public and community affairs director for the Gay and Lesbian Community Center, said about 750 people were expected to attend.

He called the passage of the Domestic Partner Registry Act — which passed May 31 after the Assembly overrode Gov. Jim Gibbons’ veto — a “hard-fought victory” and one that personally affects him.

Story said he and his partner will have been together 17 years in August. They had considered going to California to get married before Proposition 8 passed but decided to stay in Nevada, he said.

“We said, ‘You know what? Let’s wait and see if we can’t get something done here, because then it’s our home, it’s our state, and we’ll do it for ourselves,’” he said.

Story said the new Nevada law will grant him and his partner the rights, protections and the ability to make decisions about health care, property and other family issues.

“This bill, just by signing a piece of paper, makes that all happen,” he said.

Ricardo Rose and Charlie Stron said they plan to register as domestic partners on Oct. 1, which also happens to be the first day they met nearly four years ago.

Although they said they’re both happy about the new law, Stron said there is still a lot of work to be done.

“I personally feel like it still makes you a second-class citizen in Nevada, because we really would have preferred to have legal gay marriage. But it’s a step in the right direction,” Stron said. “So we’re all for that.”

Rose said it was great “to get a new validation, a new acknowledgment of something that is really dear.”

“Especially when you’re in love,” Stron added, smiling.

Speakers at the event included Julianna Ormsby of the Nevada’s Women’s Lobby; Jan Gilbert, co-founder of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada; Gary Peck, executive director of the ACLU; Jan Jones, former Las Vegas mayor and senior vice president of Harrah’s Entertainment; and state Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, who sponsored the bill.

He, as well as Jones and Ormsby, received standing ovations.

All advocated furthering progress in equality.

Jones said the bill “is just the first step in a very long battle. If we stay focused, if we work together, if we believe, we won’t just win 283, we’ll win it all.”

During his turn at the microphone, Peck assured the crowd they were on the right side of history. He said he hopes his 4-year-old daughter will come to view the injustices that gays and lesbians face today as incomprehensible as the racial injustices that occurred in his lifetime.

“The tide isn’t turning,” Peck said. “The tide has turned.”

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