Nevada is poised to become the first state to broadly amend its constitution to include protections for historically marginalized people.
The measure, Question 1, was supported by 57.5 percent of Nevada voters, while 42.5 percent opposed it at the time of publication, with 83 percent of the vote counted.
A wide-ranging amendment to the Nevada state constitution that would include antidiscrimination protections covering gender identity and sexual orientation was on the ballot on Tuesday. Voters could adopt or reject the most comprehensive state version of the Equal Rights Amendment.
In Nevada’s ERA, equal rights would be guaranteed for all, regardless of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, or ancestry.
Executive Director of Equality Nevada Chris Davin tells The Advocate that he’s pleased with the trajectory of the vote as final numbers start to come together. But regardless of the outcome, he says that even just putting the matter to a ballot question should show lawmakers where the public’s priorities lie.
“This is something that is amazing but also sad that we have to have something like this in writing and voted on,” he says. “In the world today, if things aren’t spelled out and then voted on by the people, we can’t just take the word for anyone in a governmental spot to say it’s going to happen.”
Nevada’s ERA is more wide-reaching than the federal version, which the state adopted in 2017. The federal Equal Rights Amendment forbids discrimination based on sex, but its ratification is stalled.
Davin says the state’s progressive leanings are established.
“Nevada has always been one of the states [at] the forefront for LGBTQ rights,” he says. “We are a pretty advanced state that takes ownership in the people’s voice. Nevada is one of the very few states that offers protection on a lot of topics, from abortion to LGBTQ people.”
Supporters of the amendment say it will provide new tools to challenge discrimination and close gaps where those rights are not guaranteed.
As officials continue counting votes on Question 1, they also continue to tally ballots for the U.S. Senate contest between Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican Adam Laxalt. Laxalt leads Cortez Masto by about two percentage points at publication time.
Nevada’s Democratic incumbent governor, Steve Sisolak, appears to be in trouble as he trails Republican Joe Lombardo by about four percentage points.