The first ballot question before Nevada voters in November aims to close the loop on the fight for equal rights that began decades ago.
What it does: Question 1 asks voters whether the Nevada Constitution should be amended to guarantee equal rights regardless “of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, ancestry, or national origin.”
How we got here: It stems from Senate Joint Resolution 8, approved by the Legislature in 2019 and again in 2021. Voter approval is the final step in the process, meaning a majority vote in favor of the question would amend the state Constitution to include that language.
The ballot question is separate from a long-running effort to enshrine an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) into the United States Constitution. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the federal ERA in 1971, followed by the U.S. Senate in 1972. From there, it was sent to the states for ratification. But the amendment — which centered around gender equality — fell short of ratification needed by three-fourths of states by a 1982 deadline.
The push for a federal equality guarantee received renewed attention in recent years as several states finally ratified the proposed amendment. Nevada was among them.
Thirty five years after the deadline, in 2017, both houses of the Nevada Legislature ratified the federal ERA. But a federal judge ruled that the tardy ratifications occurred too late for the amendment to be added to the U.S. Constitution, and the question is subject to ongoing appeals.
A recent poll conducted by The Nevada Independent and OH Predictive Insights found broad support for Question 1, which is essentially the state-specific version of the Equal Rights Amendment. Roughly 72 percent of voters surveyed said they would support the question on the November ballot.
The support cut across racial and ethnic lines, with 79 percent of Black voters, 76 percent of Hispanic voters, 84 percent of Asian voters and 68 percent of white voters saying they would approve the ballot question enshrining those equal right guarantees into the state Constitution.
Praise and criticism: While it appears to have broad support, and many say it is long overdue, the effort hasn’t been without some pushback.
During a legislative hearing in 2021, public commenters raised a concern about it not being “pro-women” (an argument tied to protections that would be extended to other marginalized groups). Some also wanted the word “religion” included in the amendment because of worries that “creed” was too vague.
This story was written by Jackie Valley, Tim Lenard and Joey Lovato for The Nevada Independent on August 26, 2022 and shared with Noticiero Móvil.