This week hasn't been the easiest one for the Nevada Republican Party. After all the "rebranding" attempts of the state and national party, all Cresent Hardy had to do was open his mouth to remind everyone of the Nevada Republican Party's ongoing hostility toward LGBTQ civil rights. Even as Governor Brian Sandoval (R) and a handful of other Republicans have made peace with the 21st century, the rest of the party continues to fight against equality.
We were again reminded of Nevada Republicans' angst over LGBTQ equality during Rep. Joe Heck's (R-Henderson) town hall meeting at Green Valley High School in Henderson. We had to sit through over a hour's worth of heated discussion on a number of other hot button topics (and we'll dive into those issues later). But at the very end of the town hall, a constituent asked Rep. Heck for his stance on marriage equality.
She pointed out the legal rights & responsibilities of marriage that Nevada's LGBTQ families currently can't access because domestic partnerships are not actual civil marriages. Yet even as this constituent pointed out the severe difference between domestic partnership and marriage, Rep. Heck said he could not support marriage equality. He then added that he's OK with domestic partnership and he supports giving LGBTQ families "the same rights"... Except he doesn't.
Even as Rep. Heck attempted to portray his opposition to marriage equality in a "softer light", it was nonetheless revealed in its gruesome entirety. While he tried to convey support for "more rights & benefits", he seemed blind to the fact that domestic partnerships can't offer the same rights as marriage because they are not marriage. Only civil marriages can qualify for federal marriage benefits, which include Social Security, veterans' benefits, federal tax status, and more. By withholding this one critical word from thousands of Nevada families, they've been forced into a muddled patchwork of legal uncertainty.
Rep. Joe Heck couldn't explain and/or excuse away his opposition to marriage equality. He hemmed and hawed, but ultimately he couldn't make sense of his own stance on this critical issue for LGBTQ Nevadans. And in (not) doing so, he reminded us of why his party continues to struggle in its "rebranding" campaign. How can one truly "rebrand" something that hasn't actually changed?