Camalot Todd

(Nevada Current) Nevadans will vote on codifying equal rights in the state constitution this November through Question 1, which will guarantee that people can not be discriminated against based on “race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, ancestry, or national origin.”

The constitutional amendment originated as Senate Joint Resolution 8 during the 2019 session, where it received bipartisan support, and was passed a second time during the 2021 session. If approved by voters in the general election, it will become law.

While there are federal and state laws protecting equal rights, proponents say Question 1 will fill in existing gaps for more legal protections, including against unequal pay for women and pregnancy discrimination. Proponents add the amendment will provide Nevadan courts and lawmakers clear guidance to protect against discrimination.

The federal Equal Rights Amendment, which centered around gender equality, passed in 1972 and was sent to the states for ratification. Three-fourths of the states, including Nevada, failed to ratify by the 1982 deadline.

In 2017, the Nevada Legislature ratified the federal ERA, and was soon followed by enough states who hadn’t already ratified it in the 1970s to meet the three-fourths requirement. But a federal judge ruled that it was too late for the amendment to be added to the U.S. Constitution. The validity of the more recent ratifications is still being argued through several appeals.

Opponents of Question 1 say the amendment fails to protect the “religious liberties of individuals who hold traditional views on marriage and gender and want to live according to those values” and could be used as legal justification for taxpayer-funded abortions in the state.

Nevada law guarantees the right to an abortion.

The ballot question defines “creed” to include all religious beliefs, and also adds protections from religious discrimination.

Proponents of the amendment say it does “not diminish the rights of some people at the expense of others but, instead, will advance equality for all by filling the gaps in existing protections.”