Monday, January 30, 2012

It's Time for Nevada's Mayors to Do the Right Thing

Recently, a huge, pan-partisan national coalition of mayors (of cities both big and small!) from all over the country joined with Freedom to Marry to launch Mayors for the Freedom to Marry and demand the end of marriage discrimination at all levels of government. But take a closer look at that list, and one notices a glaring omission. For some reason, no Mayor of any Nevada city is on this list.

Nevada Stonewall Democratic Caucus Chair Derek Washington penned an op-ed for QVegas over the weekend to specifically ask why the Mayor of Nevada's most famous and most populous city has so far refused to join the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry coalition. Considering the huge potential for increased tourism (and economic benefit) for Southern Nevada, why won't Carolyn Goodman even talk about this?

What makes this even weirder is that this shouldn't really be a "controversial" issue any more. Both of Carolyn Goodman's most recent predecessors as Las Vegas Mayor, Jan Laverty Jones (D) and Oscar Goodman (I) (who, by the way, is also Carolyn's husband), endorsed civil marriage equality during their respective tenures as Mayor. And statewide, Public Policy Polling found last August that a growing plurality of Nevadans support marriage equality. I'm sure support is even higher in the City of Las Vegas, so I'm quite perplexed that Carolyn Goodman still won't endorse civil marriage equality.

As we (and The Reno Gazette-Journal) have talked about before, domestic partnerships are better than nothing... But they are still no substitute for the real deal. There are over 1,100 federal rights, benefits, and responsibilities given to married couples that LGBTQ families can not access. In addition, there are still many aspects of Nevada law where LGBQT families must still be subjected to unequal treatment because of the Question 2 state marriage ban. Question 2 continues to harm local families who just want the same treatment everyone else expects, and it continues to harm efforts to bring in more domestic and international tourists because discrimination just doesn't fit in with the message of "freedom" we use when marketing to them.

Again, this really shouldn't be "controversial" any more. Supporting civil marriage equality is simply a good business decision for Nevada. And regardless of whether or not Carolyn Goodman finally realizes this, her inaction should not stop Nevada's other big city mayors from taking action. Andy Hafen (D-Henderson), Shari Buck (R-North Las Vegas), Bob Cashell (R-Reno), and Geno Martini (R-Sparks), we're all waiting for you to fill this void and fill it soon. If we really want to treat all our citizens equally and discover new business opportunities for our communities, we need to fix this error and make civil marriage equality a reality here in Nevada. And we need for our local mayors to seize this opportunity to speak up and make it happen.

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