Letter: Marriagge initiative is about discrimination and denying equal rights

Let's be honest to Nevada voters about the so-called "Protection of Marriage" initiative. It is not about protecting or defining the institution of marriage, as the supporters would have us believe. Rather, it is about discrimination and denying equal legal rights to certain people of our state. A more accurate title for Ballot Question 2 would be the "Exclusion of Legal Rights and Benefit from Same Gender Couples."

Our state and federal governments provide married couples with hundreds of special benefits. For example, as a married couple my wife of 26 years and I will receive preferred treatment when probating our estate when one of us dies. This will allow us to transfer our assets to the surviving spouse without a will or expensive probating. Our gay and lesbian friends will not share this privilege. Another special right married couples enjoy involves visitation and decision-making rights when a spouse is hospitalized or terminally ill. Gay and lesbian couples, in equally committed relationships as ours, are frequently denied the same opportunity to visit their partner or to make critical medical decisions that we would receive. This is discrimination and it is wrong.

As late as the mid-1960s, Nevada had initiatives to prohibit interracial marriage. A generation later, we realize that it was wrong to consider that as public policy. Just as that form of bigotry and discrimination was wrong in the '60s, this initiative is wrong in the 21st century.

Do not dilute the integrity of our state constitution by adding language designed to restrict rights to only certain people. We should affirm the inherent dignity of every human being as we honor all of our diverse families, including our gay and lesbian families. Americans value equal rights and fairness to all. Abraham Lincoln once said, "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves." Look beyond the seemingly innocent wording of Ballot Question 2 and see it for what it really is, part of a social agenda designed to target discrimination against certain people.

The Nevada Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers has reaffirmed its strong commitment to social justice by opposing this discriminatory ballot initiative. We encourage you to do the right thing in November and vote against having discrimination incorporated into our state constitution; vote no on Ballot Question 2.

MARK NICHOLS

Executive Director

National Association of Social Workers, Nevada Chapter

Las Vegas

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