Pioneer High students debate Question 2, other issues |

Pioneer High students debate Question 2, other issues

by Teri Vance, Appeal Staff Writer
Photo by Rick Gunn.Jolynne Elbert and Carlene Barney, both 16 and students at Pioneer High School, spoke to fellow students about question 2 on this year's ballot. The two are engaged to be married.

Carlene Barney, 16, is engaged to be married to her high school sweetheart. But her fiancee is another girl.

Carlene, a member of Pioneer High School’s student council, helped organize a series of assemblies with political candidates to put a face on the issues of this year’s election.

On Thursday, she put a face — and a wedding dress — on Question 2, an initiative to amend Nevada’s constitution ensuring same-sex marriages from other states not be recognized as legal unions.

Dressed in a bridal gown and veil, Carlene presented her side of the debate.

“In my personal opinion, it’s somewhat of a discrimination,” she said. “It’s like racism. I don’t see why it’s up to everybody else what I can do with my life.”

Carlene plans to exchange wedding vows with Jolynne Elbert, also 16, when they both graduate from high school in a traditional ceremony, although it will not be recognized legally.

“The feelings are still the same,” she said. “You still fall in love.”

After listening to the discussion, Cecelia Kelly, 18, wished she would have registered to vote.

“I would have liked to have voted on the gay question,” she said. “One of my best friends is gay and I would have voted ‘No.’ People should be allowed to do what they want to do.”

But not all the students were convinced. Teachers presented alternatives to gay marriages such as couples securing a durable power of attorney to give partners the right to make decisions even after death.

Gina Kinkade, 16, spoke out in favor of the initiative.

“Everything’s the way it should be,” she said. “People could come over here if they were gay and mess up our taxes. If they’re going to be gay, they should be smart about it.”

Despite some angry words and hurt feelings, English teacher Julie Gabica supported the student debate.

“I think it’s important that we don’t shy away from the hot questions,” she said. “It’s a learning experience in mature, intellectual discussion.”

Several candidates spoke in assemblies at the alternative high school over the course of the past month, explaining to students how to run a campaign and about their individual platforms.

“You just vote whatever you think is right,” said K.C. Pierson, 17. “It’s a responsibility.”