Las Vegas Sun

April 17, 2014

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Sun editorial:

Doing the right thing

Gov. Gibbons should sign domestic partnership legislation without hesitation

The Nevada Legislature wisely chose to walk the path of basic human fairness by recognizing that domestic partners should enjoy community property rights and other benefits.

The state Senate took that step Tuesday by approving the Assembly’s amended version of Senate Bill 283. The bill passed comfortably in both houses but not by large enough margins to be veto-proof. It now goes to Gov. Jim Gibbons, who has threatened to veto the legislation.

We strongly encourage the governor to rethink his position and sign SB283 into law because it represents a significant advance in civil rights and a change that is long overdue. Many other states have recognized this and have either adopted similar legislation or are in the process of doing so.

The bill, which applies to both gay and straight couples, treats domestic partners as all adults should be treated.

When two adults decide to enter a domestic partnership, they should have the ability to share living arrangements and finances. They should be eligible for health care benefits if employers provide them. They should be entitled to death benefits.

Domestic partners also should be afforded protection against discrimination from state agencies.

SB283 would accomplish all of these things and would do so in a way that would not harm any Nevadan.

The legislation also represents the best aspects of Nevada’s philosophy of discouraging government from meddling in the private affairs of citizens. Gibbons, an adherent of limited government, should stick to that philosophy when the bill crosses his desk.

State law is clear that marriage is lawful only between a man and a woman. SB283 doesn’t change that. If he vetoes it, the Legislature should override him.

What the bill does is to treat domestic partners as first-class citizens.

They are among our family members, our co-workers and our friends. They serve us in the local grocery store and casino, provide our health care, teach our children and help make our community safe.

It is time for Nevada to take the next step and embrace domestic partners with open arms.

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