(Also at Stonewall)
OK, OK, so I have another gig. In addition to following the wild and wonderful world of Nevada politics here, I'm also kind of a participant myself. And last night, my two interesting worlds collided when Stonewall did a very special community town hall with Rory Reid last night. Remember him? He's running for Governor.
So how was last night's community town hall? Quite interesting! In fact, we even had a lovely GOoPer stalker join us to participate in all the fun! (He even drank our booze, but we didn't throw him out because we're classy bitchez and we knew he wouldn't get the kind of "material" he was looking for anyway.) ;-)
Right off the bat was a question on how he'd bring diversity into the Governor's Office with his hiring practices. Rory Reid responded by saying that he'll be committed to hiring the best people from all diverse backgrounds.
Then we had a question on SB 283 and Clark County providing domestic partner (DP) benefits to county workers. This is when Rory Reid officially endorsed SB 283 and announced he fully supports comprehensive DPs. He also said he and his fellow Clark County Commissioners want to implement DP benefits for county employees and their spouses, but they must first do a financial study to measure the fiscal impact on the county budget. This elicited follow-up questions on why the county needs to study the fiscal impact of DP benefits when no one questions benefits for married workers. Rory responded to that by stating again that he wants to implement DP benefits, but also wants to make sure the county doesn't do something that will result in unnecessary layoffs.
So then, we had the next question. This one was on anti-discrimination laws, especially SB 207, which
bans discrimination based on sexual orientation. Now there are no laws in Nevada's books that outlaw discrimination based on gender identity, so currently transgender Nevadans have no protection. Would Rory support amending laws like SB 207 to include trans protections? Rory did say he wanted to make Nevada's anti-discrimination laws trans inclusive, but he couldn't recall SB 207 (which prompted Maggie McLetchie from ACLU Nevada to chide him on this later). (And by the way, I confess that I was the one who wrote this question.)
Next up was a question on education. I could sense a little sigh of relief from Rory on this, since education is much more his expertise. He was asked if there's too much of a focus on standardized testing, and he absolutely agreed that the tunnel vision focus on standardized tests stymies overall progress and limits learning opportunities for students who aren't visual or auditory learners, as well as more creative students who excel in subjects like the arts that can't be measured by standardized tests.
And finally, we had a question on immigration, and specifically on the issue of providing driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. Washington (State), Illinois, and New Mexico already allow undocumented immigrants to receive regular drivers' licenses, while Utah provides a "lower tier" driver's license specifically for the undocumented and Wisconsin, California, and New Jersey are considering following suit. Rory answered by stating he understands the argument that this would actually make our communities safer, but he also said he can't yet take a position as he wants more time to study the issue and wants more time for the state to consider this question.
Oh, but Rory did endorse comprehensive immigration reform on the federal level and said this is what really needs to happen first... Hopefully, this was a gentle reminder for his dad to make sure Congress is working on this!
Now interestingly enough, there were no questions on the budget. And honestly, I was a little surprised by this. To his credit, Rory has released a long-term plan on making Nevada more successful and financially stable. It just would have been nice to hear his thoughts on this year's budget and next year's likely fiscal nightmare.
So this pretty much sums up our community town hall with Rory Reid. Again, it was great to see so many in the local LGBTQ community, along with our straight-but-not-narrow allies come in and participate. I really hope this is just the start of further conversation on the state of our State of Nevada and where we want to go in the future. Perhaps Rory doesn't have all the answers yet, but at least he's making an effort to answer these and other important question. Of course, it also helps that he's actually thinking about plans for Nevada's future.
All in all, I think Rory will do well as our next Governor. He just needs to keep listening and keep thinking of good answers. :-)