CARSON CITY (KSNV MyNews3) -- The gay marriage debate took over the Nevada Senate Monday night in Carson City. After an hour of intense testimony, the Senate narrowly passed a measure to repeal Nevada's gay marriage ban.
This was a deeply personal vote for some legislators. One state senator announced he is gay; another made a vote against the beliefs of his church.
Many watching the same-sex-marriage vote said its passage would come down to WWJD: What Would Jones Do.
State Sen. Justin Jones is Mormon. The Mormon Church opposes gay marriage. Jones says even if his Mormon constituents don't bring him back over this issue, he'd rather take a stand for his family.
“My brother-in-law, Brice, is an Eagle Scout, sang in a church choir with Gladys Knight. Brice is gay,” Jones said. “I would rather lose an election then look my brother-in-law in the eye every Sunday and tell him that he shouldn’t have the same rights as I do, or his sister does. For Brice, I will be voting yes.”
Sen. Kelvin atkinson voted yes, too, bolstering his support with a brave announcement: he's gay.
Atkinson's family, friends and colleagues already knew his sexual preference. But Atkinson had never come out to say, "I'm gay."
Atkinson says it wasn't about his coming out but about sticking up for equal rights of all Nevadans.
“I'm 44 years old. I have a daughter. I'm black. I'm gay,” Atkinson said on the Senate floor Monday night. “I have dealt with a lot of what folks are talking about, and I know for some of you it's the first time you're hearing me say that ... that I am a black gay male.
“But being that I have had the opportunity, and just recently, to hear people who didn't know that, say stuff, I've heard them say something about this bill -- I've heard them say stuff about folks that I love and care deeply for.”