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In split vote, Nevada Senate passes measure to begin repeal of gay marriage ban

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Following more than an hour of riveting and personal floor speeches — during which one state senator publicly announced for the first time he is gay — the Nevada Senate voted 12-9 to begin the process of repealing the gay marriage ban from the state constitution.

Only one Republican, Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, joined with Democrats to vote in favor of Senate Joint Resolution 13, which would repeal the ban on gay marriage and replace it with a requirement that the state recognize all marriages regardless of gender.

The late night vote came after more than an hour of emotional floor debate, during which opponents of the measure decried efforts to label them as "insensitive and unenlightened," and supporters argued marriage equality should be extended to all regardless of gender.

In a particularly emotional moment, Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, publicly declared for the first time that he is gay.

"I’m black. I'm gay," Atkinson said in a trembling voice after describing his father's interracial re-marriage that would have been banned earlier in American history. "I know this is the first time many of you have heard me say that I am a black, gay male."

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