Vegas drag icon Marino on gay marriage: ‘It’s about time’

This was the week Nevada’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community has been waiting for.

The celebration began Monday when the Supreme Court’s decision not to take up a same-sex marriage case, opening the way for gays to marry.

“That was the domino that started it all,” Phil Lobel, a Los Angeles-based publicist, said.

The second domino fell Tuesday when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco overturned Nevada’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

The result, according to Lobel, a spokesman for one of the largest lesbian gatherings in the world, will be “a great boom to Nevada’s economy.”

Lobel, a publicist for Dinah Vegas, also known as Dinah Shore Weekend, said the reversal was “long overdue” and “the entire LGBT world has been waiting to come to Vegas to get hitched like the rest of the world has for decades.”

Nevada voters in 2000 and 2002 had twice overwhelming supported the ban by nearly 70 percent.

The reversal sends the case back to U.S. District Court for “the prompt issuance of an injunction permanently enjoining the state, its political subdivisions, and its officers, employees, and agents” from enforcing the constitutional provision.

“It’s about time,” said Las Vegas drag icon Frank Marino, a fixture on the Strip since 1986 as the star of “An Evening at La Cage” for 25 years before opening “Divas” at The Quad.

Marino, 50, said he had lost hope and often predicted he did not expect to see same-sex marriage in his lifetime.

As his email “blew up” on Tuesday, he said, “In 10 years we’ll look back and say, ‘Can you believe that gay marriage was illegal.’ ”

In striking down the ban, 9th Circuit judges found it imposes “profound legal, financial, social and psychic harms” on many of its citizens.

Lobel said Las Vegas hotels will be in “high gear” now to embrace the gay union wedding business.

Dinah Vegas is a spinoff of Dinah Shore Weekend, which had been based in Palm Springs for decades until the lesbian celebration moved to Las Vegas three years after being courted by Caesars Entertainment.

The event brings 5,000 to 10,000 lesbians to Las Vegas each year.

In June, nightclub operator Victor Drai and Bally’s, a Caesars Entertainment property, opened Liaison, the first gay nightclub in a casino.

Marino plans to marry 20-year partner Alex Schechter at their new home in Summerlin next year. They wanted to wait until they could get married in Nevada.

The wedding date?

“As soon as he gets finished reading the prenup,” Marino said, “which, if he has a good lawyer, should take six to eight months.”


Texas investigative reporter and novelist Doug J. Swanson will appear at the Mob Museum on Oct. 18 to discuss his new book, “Blood Aces,” about racketeer and Las Vegas gambling legend Benny Binion. Admission is free for museum members or with paid admission to the museum. Reservations: 702-229-2734. …

Caesars Palace headliner Matt Goss has set up the website,, in the memory of his mother, who died of cancer in May. The site specifically requests stories from people who beat cancer. “If people are struggling, they can scroll through stories from people who have beat this terrible disease,” Goss said. “I want to try to elevate the level of people’s hope.”


Chef Gordon Ramsay, riding the High Roller on Tuesday with newly crowned “Hell’s Kitchen” winner Scott Cummings, who was awarded a job at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars Palace. … Flamingo headliner Olivia Newton-John, promoting Breast Cancer Awareness month by ceremoniously lighting the High Roller pink on Monday. She was joined at The Linq by the Chippendales. … Los Angeles mogul Sam Nazarian and his fiancée, Emina Cunmulaj, dining at Cleo (SLS) with a real estate gathering that included Scott and Amie Yancey of A&E’s reality show “Flipping Vegas.” Nazarian is founder and CEO of sbe, the Los Angeles-based company that includes SLS Las Vegas and Hyde Bellagio. … R&B star Ne-Yo celebrates his 32nd birthday Saturday at Chateau Nightclub & Rooftop at Paris Las Vegas. … Rich Redmond, the drummer for country artist Jason Aldean, and Jon Hull, Aldean’s drum-tech, taking in Blue Man Group (Monte Carlo) on Saturday.


“Today is (Vladimir) Putin’s 62nd birthday. He celebrated the way he always does: having someone try his cake before him.” — Jimmy Fallon

Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0244 or email him at Find more online at Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke.

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