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A Father's Vote for Gay Rights

But for Madaleno, in the event of a car accident involving his partner, he said, he would have no way to prove to a hospital's satisfaction that he could speak for his partner unless he carried legal papers with him.

Without a state registry, Madaleno said, he could be denied the ability to sit at the bedside of his loved one in the hospital and convey his wishes in the midst of a medical crisis.

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"My partner of many years, Mark, has an immediate family of two parents, in Las Vegas; one brother, in Texas; and one person he loves with whom he shares is home and his life, me," Madaleno told the members. "If he is hospitalized, will I have to stand at the door, waiting for his mother or father to try to get here from Nevada? I don't want my partner to have to sit in a room of strangers and face a medical emergency alone."

The delegate said that as he listened to the subsequent debate, he wondered whether other delegates were "so repulsed by the idea of two men being together that . . . [they] would deprive someone of the common human decency of deciding who your family is."

Niemann said he didn't think that was the case. Only when homosexuality becomes an abstraction do people seem to lose their sense of tolerance, he said -- which is why he felt compelled to invoke his daughter's name when he rose to speak on the floor of the House.

He didn't view this as a heroic measure. "I don't see any reason she should be denied any legal rights," Niemann said matter-of-factly a few days later.

But to Cassi Niemann, it was nothing if not heroic. She was at work and unable to talk yesterday, but she has made her feelings plain on the Internet. She called her father the day after the speech, Del. Niemann said, a smile spreading across his face.

"She posted it on her blog site. Tracked down the audio recordings. She was proud of me. She said that."

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