Gay Tourists Abandon The Strip?

MGM and Harrahs have spent years marketing to gay consumers -- and both companies fear gay tourism to Vegas will plummet if Gov. Jim Gibbons makes good on his promise to veto the state's domestic-partner benefits bill.

BY Advocate.com Editors

May 20 2009 11:00 PM ET

The Nevada legislature already passed the domestic-partnership bill, which would give committed unmarried couples -- both gay and straight -- the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual married couples. The bill specifies that domestic partnerships, or civil unions, are not the same as marriages as defined in the Nevada constitution.

But Gibbons has vowed to veto the bill, with his communications director saying the governor believes the bill is not necessary because any couple already can secure rights pertaining to wills, inheritance, and hospital decisions by executing private contracts. Jones says this is a basically a lie; gay couples would have to personally execute dozens of contracts, at their own expense, to accomplish what this bill automatically would.

"This should be a very simple vote," Jones said. "It's the right thing to do. It allows people to preserve their rights and their family's rights."

MGM Mirage's senior vice president of public affairs Alan Feldman said Jones' letter is "completely consistent with what Harrah's and what Jan would do." MGM Mirage, which has also offered domestic-partner benefits to all of its employees for many years, is preparing for a potential veto by the governor, but Feldman said he hopes that eventually "cooler heads will prevail."

"It is a challenge," he said. "We make a very real, concerted effort on a lot of these issues, and to have the sense that you're fighting against your own state is very frustrating."

Jones says if the governor does vote the bill it could have a longterm impact.

"I don't think the governor is thinking at all... I think there's going to be longterm ramifications for many of the governor's decisions."

Tags: Politics

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