Since the Nov. 4 election, four states have stepped forward to do the right thing. One state has sparked a heated court battle. Three states have further restricted rights of its citizens.
Massachusetts, Vermont, Iowa and Connecticut, all of which are conservative states, have legalized same-sex marriage. Florida and Arizona have banned same-sex marriage and Arkansas’ majority voted to ban any unmarried couple from adopting or fostering children. The Unmarried Couples Adoption Ban was put on the November ballot as a way for the state to combat what it saw as immoral: allowing a homosexual couple to adopt children.
In the November election, California repealed homosexual couples’ right to marriage by approving Proposition 8, essentially jeopardizing more than 18,000 marriage licenses granted by the state since spring 2008. The California Supreme Court will make a decision as early as June to uphold or reject Prop 8.
There is little doubt in Americans’ minds that the United States is at a crossroads, one that will affect the country economically, politically and morally, but legalizing same-sex marriage is a debate that isn’t going away anytime soon.
Nevada took a step in the right direction on Wednesday when the Nevada State Senate passed a bill that would give domestic partners a majority of the rights that married couples have. The bill will now go to the Assembly to be voted on.
While domestic partner rights are often equated to those given to married couples, such as the ability to be added to a spouse’s insurance through an employer or make medical decisions for a spouse in case of emergency, it is not the same as granting someone the right to marry their partner.
I’m guessing that the next paragraph is going to anger about 50 percent of this paper’s readers, while the other 50 percent will smile and nod in agreement.
For a state like Nevada, which is known for its quick marriages and even quicker divorces, legalizing gay marriage makes sense, especially for Nevada’s bottom line.
In the state of Nevada it costs $55 to obtain a marriage license. If 100 marriage licenses are purchased in Washoe County in one week, the county has made $5,500. In Clark County, I can almost bet the house that the number of marriage licenses purchased in a week is much higher, but even if Clark County only sells 1,000 licenses, it would still make $55,000.
According to marriage license statistics for Clark County, in 2007 the county issued just under 109,000 marriage license, averaging 2,096 licenses a week and making $5.9 million for the year.
If Nevada legalizes gay marriage, hypothetically doubling the number of marriage licenses purchased in Washoe and Clark counties in one week, Washoe County could make $11,000 and Clark County could make $230,560, doubling Clark County’s annual marriage revenue to $11.9 million and Washoe’s to $572,000 in one year.
If the California Supreme Court were to uphold Prop. 8, denying the legalization of gay marriage in that state, and Nevada were to legalize gay marriage, doubling the number of marriage licenses obtained in the state is not a far-fetched idea. This would create a revenue stream that would help fill the gaps currently turning Nevada’s budget into Swiss cheese.
Regardless of the economic advantages that legalizing gay marriage would bring to Nevada, it is the right thing to do.
As a nation that prides itself on the concept of freedom — remember, we have troops fighting for it right now — the philosophical discussion about legalizing gay marriage needs to end and action needs to be taken. There is no reason to discriminate against a group of people because of their sexual orientation, just like there is no reason to discriminate against someone because of their race, socio-economic or religious background.
So, why are we preventing a group of people the right to marry the person they love in hopes of finding their happily ever after? After all, what happens in Vegas usually ends in annulment, along with the other 50 percent of American marriages. Even if you look at marriage in the shamefully pitiful terms of failed heterosexual unions, why aren’t we giving homosexual couples the opportunity to fail? (No one ever says “Good luck!” at a wedding, they always say “Congratulations!”)
I strongly support several of my friends in their struggle to find equal rights through gay marriage in this country. It does not matter to me who my friends choose to love but who they choose to be as a person and as a friend.
Cortney Maddock is a freelance reporter for the Sparks Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.