On Monday, Nevada State Senator Kelvin Atkinson publicly outed himself as gay during a debate over a gay marriage bill, according to a report in the Las Vegas Sun. The newspaper described his voice as “trembling” as he revealed his sexuality in a highly public way.
“I’m black. I’m gay,” Atkinson is quoted as saying. “I know this is the first time many of you have heard me say that I am a black, gay male.”
Atkinson compared Nevada’s current ban on gay marriage to interracial marriage bans in the U.S.’s recent past. His father has re-married into an interracial marriage. He also stated that gay marriages do not harm heterosexual marriages, saying, “If this hurts your marriage, then your marriage was in trouble in the first place.”
The Nevada Senate was debating Senate Joint Resolution 13, which would repeal the state’s ban on gay marriage and require Nevada to recognize all marriages, regardless of gender. After much debate, the resolution passed with 12 votes to 9. According to the Sun, if the bill passes the full legislature it will have to be re-approved in 2015 and then placed on the 2016 election ballot.