Six Degrees of Southern Nevada

Las Vegas runs on Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Just as everybody ultimately can be connected back to the ubiquitous actor in six steps, so can any two Southern Nevadans be similarly linked. News stories also have their share of connections.

IHS Global Insights, which specializes in economic forecasting, said Nevada won’t return to its pre-recession employment figures until 2017. The only other two states in such pitiful shape are Michigan, which has been in a state of depression since Detroit automakers decided that Americans wanted gas-guzzling vehicles when oil prices shot up in the 1970s; and Rhode Island, which even made a huge loan to former baseball star and conservative critic of government Curt
Schilling to attract his video-game company—now swimming in red ink, and not just from Red Sox.

Gov. Brian Sandoval responded to a lawsuit by eight couples who want their same-sex marriages to be legal by challenging the right of a federal court to rule on a state matter. More accurately, the response came from the office of Attorney General , . In 2010, Sandoval’s illustrious predecessor, Jim Gibbons, asked Masto to join other attorneys general in a lawsuit against health- care reform. She replied, “In my professional judgment, joining the litigation filed by 14 other states, as you have suggested, is not warranted by existing law at this time.”

Well, Sandoval is the named defendant in this lawsuit, and the attorney general does have an obligation to defend the governor against lawsuits—or, as Sandoval did when Gov. Kenny Guinn wanted the Legislature to pass the largest tax hike in Nevada’s history, represent him when he sues. It would have been nice for Cortez Masto to show her independent streak and suggest that the former federal judge in the governor’s mansion could do it himself. Or at least say she’s
doing this despite her opposition to depriving people of basic human rights, but, oh, well.

Meanwhile, in 2013, Tick Segerblom, an assemblyman who figures to be in the state Senate next year, will introduce legislation to change Nevada’s law against same-sex marriage. Because the existing constitutional amendment came from the voter initiative process, it would take him until 2016 to get the law changed. His proposal would have to win legislative approval twice before going before the voters.

Not that Nevada voters will support the change. Nevada may claim to be libertarian, but that is increasingly wrong on two levels: First, population growth has led to the arrival of far more conservatives than libertarians and, second, Nevada is libertarian only when it makes money at it. 

Which is why Nevada voters should support the change. Whatever even the most conservative Nevadan thinks of gays and gay marriage, Nevada has no business claiming to be a bastion of marital respect and fidelity.

Which brings us back to IHS and its warning about jobs. It’s already an attraction for those who love drive-thru weddings and preachers dressed as Elvis. Nevada could very easily turn itself into a mecca for gay marriage. This would attract visitors who would be in the mood to celebrate—and if they had the money to come here and get married, they presumably would have money to spend.

Set aside the argument that anything that encourages marriage and family should be a
conservative issue. If Gov. Sandoval and Cortez Masto want Nevada’s economy to recover, here’s a way to do it and take a stand for human rights at the same time. That shouldn’t be too hard for ambitious politicians to agree on. But as Sandoval, now supporting Mitt Romney for president, would tell you, any issue but the economy is just a distraction, right?

By the way, Kevin Bacon supports gay marriage. We’ll have to find a different way to connect the governor and attorney general to him.