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April 17, 2014

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Gibbons vetoes domestic partnerships bill

CARSON CITY – Gov. Jim Gibbons has vetoed a domestic partners bill to give gay couples some of the same rights enjoyed by those who are married.

The governor said Senate Bill 283 “would effectively bypass that constitutional mandate by allowing the rights and privileges of marriage to be bestowed upon non-married persons.”

Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, the sponsor of the bill, said previously he would talk with leadership to determine if an attempt will be made to override the veto.

The bill was approved 12-9 in the Senate and 26-14 in the Assembly. A two-thirds vote is required to override the governor’s veto.

The governor also vetoed two other bills, dealing with regional planning in Washoe County and setting standards for medical care for state prison inmates.

So far the governor has disapproved nine bills this session and he is starting to catch up with the record of 12 vetoed by Gov. Bob List in 1981. And the governor is just getting the tax bills that he promised to veto.

The domestic partners bill provides couples, either of the same sex or couples of opposite sex who are not married, such rights as community property, responsibility for debts and the right to seek alimony in a split up.

A couple would be required to register with the Secretary of State’s Office and pay a fee. The bill says a private and public employer would not be required to provide health care benefits to a domestic partner of an employer.

The governor said the Nevada Constitution, in an amendment approved by voters, provides that “only a marriage between a male and a female person shall be recognized and given effect in this state.”

Gibbons said, “I believe that because the voters have determined that the rights of marriage should apply only to married couples, only the voters should determine whether those rights should equally apply to domestic partners.”

Voters in 2002 approved a constitutional amendment that a marriage should only be between a man and a woman. Supporters of the bill said this was about contract rights and not about marriage.

The governor said many of the same rights granted in the bill “are readily available today by way of private contracts.”

The governor said this veto “should not be taken to suggest that domestic partners are in any way undeserving the rights and protections.” He said he recently signed Senate Bill 207, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The governor also disapproved Assembly Bill 473, which requires the state Department of Corrections to adopt regulations on medical emergencies and the provision of medical and dental services to prisoners.

He said these requirements are already in the law. He said existing law already requires the director of the Department of Corrections to take “proper measures to protect the health and safety of staff and offenders in the institutions and facilities of the department.”

The governor said the corrections director is already required to establish standards for personal hygiene of offenders as well as standards for medical and dental services.

Assembly Bill 473 passed the Assembly 36-6 and the Senate 18-3.

Gibbons also vetoed a bill to require Washoe County to require in its comprehensive regional plan the amount of water that will serve the population.

The governor said existing law already ordered that regional planning in Washoe County must take into effect conservation including the use and protection of water resources. He said this bill is “redundant and unnecessary.”

Assembly Bill 119 cleared the Senate 27-14 and 12-9 in the Senate.

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