Nevada, the “ Battle Born” state, became a member of the Union in the midst of the Civil War. Its unique timing of becoming a state, along with an unsuccessful first draft, helped form the Nevada Constitution. Bills and amendments continue to shape Nevada into the state it is today.
In the 1840’s, President James Polk sought war with Mexico in order to gain the territory all the way to the Pacific (Norton 363). Following the capture of the Mexican capital, the Treaty of Hidalgo, signed in February 1848, allowed The United States to gain the land representing present day Nevada (Norton 366). As the territory became more populated, the people of Nevada began the quest for statehood. A group of delegates met November 2, 1863 to draft Nevada’s initial constitution. However, this first attempt failed to be voted in by the territory. “ There were a variety of reasons why it was rejected, including the idea that the taxation of mines, as established in the newly written constitution, was deemed too unfavorable for the mine owners” (Edwards, “ Nevada Statehood”). The new constitution, drafted in July of 1864, included under Article 10, Section 5, a provision that only the net profits of the mines could be taxed. This helped the constitution gain support by eliminating one of the original opposition points. On September 7, 1864, Nevada voters approved the Constitution. On October 31, 1864, President Lincoln approved Nevada as a state without further action by congress, as allowed by the Enabling Act. Additional instructions of the act required that the Nevada constitution prohibited slavery (“ Nevada Territory: Second Constitutional Convention, 1864”).
This requirement was written in the Ordinance in the beginning of the Constitution, as well as in Article 1, Section 17.
The Nevada Constitution now contains 19 articles. In these articles are elements defining marriage, rights to bear arms, and medical marijuana usage, along with many other aspects of Nevada law. Marriage in Nevada, as written in Article 1, Section 21, was only recognized between a man and a woman. However, Section 22, if passed by 2015 Legislature and ratified by 2016 voters, would give legal bearing to same sex marriages. The amendment states that “ the State of Nevada and its political subdivisions shall recognize marriages and issue marriage licenses to couples, regardless of gender”(“ The Constitution of the State of Nevada”). Recent events, however, have allowed same sex marriages as of October 9th, 2014. Although a federal judge had ruled that Nevada’s ban on same sex marriage would stand, the state attorney general refused to continue to defend the law. A private group, Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, took the supreme court case against Sevcik, but eventually withdrew their appeal (Mears, “ With Nevada, samesex marriage legal