The Nevada equal rights amendment will be the first of three questions the state’s voters will see on their ballot this Nov. 8.
The constitutional amendment, proposed by the Nevada Legislature in the 2019 and 2021 sessions, would add a guarantee that equal rights would not be denied to any person on account of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, ancestry, or national origin.
It’s important for Nevada to entrench equality — including protections for gender identity — into state law, supporters of the amendment say.
“Nevada is a leader, and once this is ratified by the voters in November, the whole world will see just how we are committed to equality,” said state Sen. Pat Spearman, D-North Las Vegas. Spearman was one of the primary sponsors of the resolution that created the amendment. She also has campaigned to have Nevada ratify the federal Equal Rights Amendment, although legal questions persist about whether it can be adopted.
“Who did God create that does not deserve equality?” Spearman asked.
Opponents, such as the Nevada Families for Freedom, fear such an amendment would lead to government-mandated discrimination.
“This is the most radical state equal rights amendment in any state in the union, and it essentially erases girls and women,” said Janine Hansen, the group’s state president. Hansen is running for secretary of state this year on the Independent American Party ticket.
A 2019 statement from the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom group outlines why it and other groups don’t support the amendment.
“By enshrining ‘gender identity’ in the state constitution, it would mandate that men who self-identify as women be allowed to compete for spots on female sports teams, women’s scholarships, and other academic and sports-related opportunities specifically for women,” the statement reads. “It would violate women’s privacy and dignity by forcing women’s shelters and private, intimate spaces, like locker rooms and restrooms, to be open to men.”
The resolution that created the amendment passed with bipartisan majorities in 2019 and 2021. It passed 18-3 in the state Senate and 33-8 in the state Assembly in 2019. In 2021, it again passed the Senate 18-3 but passed the Assembly 30-12.