(Cross-posted at My Silver State)
It finally happened. In case you missed last night's big news, the Nevada Legislature overrode Idiot-in-Chief Jim Gibbons' veto to make comprehensive domestic partnerships into law. Nevada is the first Mountain West state to offer legal recognition for same-sex couples, and is the first non-coastal state to do so by way of the Legislature. Believe me, I'm quite proud of "my other home state" today.
But hey, our work isn't over yet.
It's quite true that SB 283, the domestic partnership (DP) bill, will go a long way to help LGBT families. Gay and lesbian couples previously had little legal protection under state law. But starting in October, both same-sex and opposite-sex couples can register for a DP and receive largely the same legal rights as married spouses.
Again, this is a major step forward for equality in Nevada. However, it's not enough. We're still dealing with "separate but equal", and we still have far more work to do. Nevada now prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity. The LGBT working poor are still coping with brutal budget cuts to essential social services. And of course, gay & lesbian couples still aren't allowed the dignity and respect of full civil marriage.
I know it's easy for us to look at what happened over the weekend, pat ourselves on the back, and conclude that "gays have rights in Nevada". Perhaps so, but LGBT people still don't have full civil rights and we must keep working to eventually achieve equality for all.
Separate is never equal. LGBT people have the same hopes and dreams as everyone else. Our families deserve to enjoy the same commitment, dignity, and responsibilities of marriage. Our workers, whether they be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, deserve to be safe at work and judged for what they do, not who they are. No one deserves to be discriminated against simply because of one's sexual orientation or gender identity. All people are created equal, and the law should fully recognize that.
So let's celebrate the progress we're making today, then get back to work tomorrow. HRC Nevada did some great work with the SB 283 this year, and hopefully they'll keep it up. The Southern Nevada LGBT Center has never given up, and continues to deserve our support as they support all of our community. Nevada Women's Lobby, Progress Now Nevada, and Progressive Leadership Alliance Nevada are also committed to continue working for LGBT equality.
We're not even halfway through 2009 yet, but we've already seen so many leaps forward and falls backward. I'm heartened and joyful that Nevada's now one of those leaps forward. But hey, we're still just halfway up the stairs. Let's keep going until we achieve full equality.