Dawn Gibbons has a message for the Legislature: Override my husband.
Gibbons, the estranged wife of Gov. Jim Gibbons, said in an interview last week that she hopes legislators will pass a bill to create domestic partnerships for same-sex couples despite the governor's threatened veto.
"I think it's good that this is being considered now," she said. "There are a lot of good minds in the Legislature and I believe they will try to do the right thing. I'm hopeful that they will get a bill that will be able to override the governor's veto."
In accordance with an arrangement worked out by their respective attorneys, Dawn Gibbons occupies an apartment on the grounds of the Governor's Mansion above the Nevada Room, where last Tuesday she attended a reception for gay rights advocates.
"Whenever I'm there, I always try to greet people, and they did invite me," she said of the reception. "I always try to make the people of our state feel welcome. It's their place. I think that's part of my job."
Las Vegan Bill Schafer said he was the one who asked the first lady what she thought of the bill, which passed the state Senate while the reception was under way. When Dawn Gibbons said she was for it, Schafer handed her a microphone, and she told the whole room, to warm applause.
Gibbons corroborated that account.
"They asked me how I felt, and in fairness I believe everybody deserves dignity and respect," she said. "They are just asking for equality. They're not asking for marriage -- they're just asking to enter into a contract as they choose, which seems very reasonable to me."
Gibbons, a former Republican assemblywoman, said her position had nothing to do with her own troubled domestic partnership, which she declined to discuss further.
The governor's spokesman, Daniel Burns, said Jim Gibbons still plans to veto the bill because he thinks state recognition of a new category of relationships constitutes a governmental intrusion into people's lives.
"He's willing to listen, but I doubt he will change his mind. He feels very strongly about the issue," Burns said. "When you boil it all down, it has nothing to do with people's lifestyle and everything to do with not getting government involved where government has no business being involved."
Dawn Gibbons said she thinks legislators will come up with a compromise bill that can get enough votes to override a veto.
"He's the governor. He'll do what he wants to do," she said. "There's going to come a point this session or the next where we will have to deal with it (the issue). I think it's about fairness and taking care of families."
PAC IT UP
Sen. Harry Reid won't take lobbyist or political action committee donations at his presidential fundraiser in Las Vegas next month.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to come to town May 26 to headline the event for Reid. His campaign barred lobbyist and PAC contributions, and he has instituted the same rule for fundraisers he hosts as president.
It was recently announced that the upcoming annual dinner of the Democrats' House and Senate committees, featuring Obama, also will forgo lobbyist and PAC contributions.
A Reid spokesman told the Hotline last week that rule would apply to the event here as well.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee jumped on the report as evidence of hypocrisy, noting that Reid has taken lobbyist money and defended lobbyists in the past.
In a January interview with ABC News, Reid said, "People should understand that lobbyists, per se, are someone's father, mother, son, daughter." Reid himself has relatives who are lobbyists.
"Why are lobbyists barred from Reid's Nevada fundraiser next month if he believes there's nothing wrong with taking their money the other 364 days a year?" the NRSC's Brian Walsh said in a news release.
Reid spokesman Jon Summers pointed out that the donation restriction was imposed by the president.
"President Obama has a policy of not attending events where money is raised by lobbyists or PACs and we happily respected that policy for this event," Summers said.
The recently elected Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., knows she can't ever stop fundraising if she wants to keep her competitive seat in the House of Representatives.
Titus has raised $233,000 in the first three months of the year, and $311,000 since the election, according to the report filed earlier this month with the Federal Election Commission.
Subtracting expenditures, it leaves her with $257,000 in cash on hand as she looks forward to the next election a year and a half away.
The numbers are similar to those of her predecessor, Republican Jon Porter. In the first quarter of 2007, Porter had raised $234,000 and had $235,000 on hand. Porter's fundraising in the 2008 election cycle lagged behind that of previous cycles and wasn't enough to keep him in office.
Meanwhile, Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., has already drawn an opponent for 2010. Douglas County School Board President Cindy Trigg announced her challenge on Friday.
Heller has shown himself to be a prodigious fundraiser in the past, but in the first quarter he lay relatively low, raising $96,000. That left him with $178,000 in the bank.
Heller's campaign committee also is carrying $312,000 in debt.
Contact reporter Molly Ball at mball @reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919.