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Nevada senator's joyous proposal
01:29 - Source: KTNV

Story highlights

Proposal comes after appeals court overturned the state's ban on gay marriage

State senator proposed to partner "on state in front of everyone"

CNN  — 

He expected him to say yes. The unmarried couple had been together for about 6 ½ years, but it wasn’t until Tuesday that a state senator from Nevada was able to ask his partner to legally marry him.

After a ruling from an appeals court overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, state Sen. Kelvin Atkinson was on stage in what was to be a meeting to explore Nevada’s next steps in pushing for legalization of marriage for gays and lesbians.

“I was telling my story and it just came out. I proposed to him on stage in front of everyone,” said Atkinson.

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in California concluded that bans in Nevada and Idaho violated the equal protection rights of same-sex couples to legally marry.

As the dominoes continue to fall after the Supreme Court Monday decided to let stand rulings striking down bans in five states and affecting similar laws in six others, Nevada joined a cavalcade of states whose same-sex marriage bans have been tossed out.

In the coming weeks, 32 states could allow same-sex marriage, an increase of 13 states since the beginning of the month.

“The governor has told the attorney general to begin giving out marriage licenses to same-sex couples (Wednesday) at 2 p.m.,” said Atkinson.

Lawmaker’s ‘impulse decision’ to come out

Atkinson expected Sherwood Howard, his partner, to say yes to the proposal, but there was crying, and not everyone in the crowd could hear Howard’s answer.

“He said yes,” said Atkinson.

The Democratic state senator said that the meeting “turned into a celebration,” and that “I come from a big supportive family. I have 10 siblings and an 18-year-old daughter, and they all are very happy for us.”

The two haven’t set a date. They could be Nevada’s first same-sex married couple if they decide to wed Wednesday.

“We have been asked to be Nevada’s first same sex-couple to get married tomorrow, but we haven’t decided yet. I’m going home to talk about it right now actually,” he said.