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Federal Judge Strikes Down Nebraska Marriage Equality Ban

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

A Federal Judge struck down Nebraska’s marriage equality ban, with an effective date in one week.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

A federal judge blocked Nebraska’s same-sex marriage ban on Monday… The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska sued the state in November on behalf of seven same-sex couples challenging the ban, which passed with the approval of 70 percent of voters in 2000. In addition to prohibiting gay marriage, the ban also forbids civil unions and legalized domestic partnerships. Same-sex couples miss out on medical and financial benefits that are available to heterosexual married couples, U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon said in issuing the injunction, which takes effect March 9.

The state immediately appealed the decision to the 8th circuit.

Zack Ford at Think Progress says the Eighth Circuit may be inclined to issue a stay:

Marriage equality would thus take effect on March 9, provided the Eighth Circuit doesn’t institute a longer stay. Unlike in other circuits, the Eighth Circuit might be inclined to do just that. Battalion has actually ruled against Nebraska’s ban before, way back in a 2005 case called Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning. The state appealed, and a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit unanimously overturned his decision, ruling that the ban did not violate same-sex couples’ equal protection under the law. The Eighth Circuit is the only appeals court that has a precedent for upholding marriage bans.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts denounced the ruling.

The Republican governor said Monday that the issue should be left to Nebraskans, and not an “activist judge” subverting their will. Ricketts say he will work with Attorney General Doug Peterson, a fellow Republican, to uphold the current constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2000.

Meanwhile, LGBT couples celebrated:

As it stands now, the ban on gay marriage has been lifted and is set to go into effect March 9th. It’s a day Roby and Tubach have been waiting for, for nearly 30 years. “This is our home. I’m not going to go somewhere else. I’m going to stay here and work through the process so that we can do this here,” said Roby. “I am most interested in being able to move this ring from my right hand ring finger to my left hand ring finger,” said an emotional Tubach.

And Rep. Brad Ashford (D) released a statement in support of the decision.

Discrimination against anyone based on their sexual orientation has no place in this country. Courts across the country are demanding equal treatment under the law, and today, Nebraska took a major stand against inequality in this country. This decision does not ask individuals to abandon their principles on the issue, but rather, to accept that this country is overwhelmingly diverse, and we must embrace those who might not hold our same beliefs. The many differences of individuals are what make this a great nation, and today’s decision recognizes that same-sex couples deserve equal rights under the law. I applaud this decision and commit to continue working for equality for all Nebraskans in the future.

In related news, the state’s welfare officials have been ignoring a ban on gay foster parents:

The state’s Department of Health and Human Services established a policy in 1995 that prohibited the placement of foster children with gay and lesbian couples or unmarried couples unless they are related to the children. During a review of state agencies, Ricketts’ office learned that the DHHS has been ignoring the policy, his spokesman Taylor Gage said. He said he didn’t know when the state began placing children with such couples or how many children had been placed in such homes.

The Dallas Voice has a new marriage equality map:

Dallas Voice marriage equality map

So does Wikipedia:

Wikipedia Marriage Equality Map

New Poll: 34% in Nebraska Support Marriage Equality

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

Nebraska Poll

A new poll shows a majority still oppose marriage equality in the state, but a minority in Omaha are against it. reports:

A majority of Nebraskans 54 percent oppose the legalization of gay marriage in the state, according to a World-Herald statewide poll. In Omaha, however, more people supported than opposed gay marriage: 46 percent in support, 41 percent opposed. The poll comes as supporters of same-sex marriage prepare to challenge the states gay-marriage ban in court. The ACLU of Nebraska and others filed a lawsuit in federal court last month, arguing that the 2000 ban violates the constitutional rights of gay people to marry.

The new poll shows a slight increase from 2012, when a poll showed that 32% of Nebraskans supported marriage equality, but it also shows a big drop in opposition – the ban originally passed in 2000 with 70% support.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Nebraska.

No Driver’s License for You!

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

NebraskaThe state of Nebraska is denying a woman a driver’s license because she changed her name when she married her partner.

Think Progress reports:

The state of Nebraska told Sue Stroesser she could not have a driver’s license for the first time in 35 years. That’s because her driver’s license was previously under the name Sue Kirchofer, and the state refuses to recognize her name change because it would mean recognizing her same-sex marriage from neighboring state Iowa. Sue married Mary Stroesser back in 2009 after same-sex marriage first became legal in Iowa. They’ve been together 30 years and are raising two young sons, and Sue even had worked in Omaha before the family officially moved across the border from Council Bluffs. She took her valid Iowa driver’s license to the DMV to get a new Nebraska license, but because she previously had a Nebraska license under her maiden name, she had to provide proof of her name change. When she presented her Iowa marriage certificate, the staffers informed her they could not accept it because the state does not recognize it.

Can we just call this what it is? Petty bureaucratic bullsh@t designed to make sane sex couples feel like they are worth less than everyone else.

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Nebraska Lesbian Divorce Blocked By State Supreme Court

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

NebraskaImagine if you no longer loved your husband or wife, and your state’s Supreme Court stepped in to tell you that you had to remain married to them.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Nebraska’s Supreme Court dismissed an appeal Friday by woman legally wed to another woman in Iowa who is now seeking a divorce in the state where they live, saying it didn’t have jurisdiction and therefore could not address the constitutional arguments raised about same-sex marriage and divorce in Nebraska… The state attorney general’s office, in a friend of the court brief, argued that allowing the divorce would run afoul of the state’s constitutional amendment and that granting the divorce “would in effect disenfranchise 70 percent of Nebraska’s voters (who voted for the amendment).” Nichols’ attorney, Megan Mikolajczyk, had argued that the U.S. Constitution’s “full faith and credit” clause requires Nebraska to recognize the marriage. But Nebraska’s Supreme Court dismissed the case without addressing constitutional issues, saying that because Nichols had appealed from a conditional order and not a final judgment, it lacks jurisdiction over the appeal.

Some day, and maybe some day soon, we’ll be past this messy patchwork of state by state laws that dictate when we can marry, and when we can get divorced.

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Nebraska: Lesbian Couple Asks for Divorce

Friday, March 28th, 2014

NebraskaA lesbian couple has asked for a divorce in a case that could challenge the state’s marriage equality ban.

The Journal Star reports:

A Raymond woman who married her longtime, same-sex partner in Iowa in 2009 is now petitioning the Nebraska Supreme Court to be allowed to divorce.

How many states are left that don’t either have full marriage equality or have a lawsuit pending?

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USA, Nebraska: County Extends Benefits to Partners of Same Sex Couples

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

NebraskaA Nebraska county took a progressive step this week for its gay and lesbian couples in county government.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Sarpy County commissioners have decided to extend health insurance benefits to spouses of gay county employees who have legally married in another state but live in Nebraska. Sarpy-County-NEThe Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 for the change on Tuesday. Under the previous policy, same-sex couples were allowed health benefits if they were legally married in another state and lived in a state that allowed it, such as nearby Iowa. Board Chairman Jim Thompson said the old policy was, in effect, telling some employees that they had to leave their Nebraska homes and quit paying Nebraska taxes so they could live in Iowa and pay Iowa taxes. He voted for the change.

Even in Nebraska, LGBT rights are taking a step forward.

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USA, Nebraska: Will Someone Challenge Marriage Equality Ban in State?

Friday, January 17th, 2014

NebraskaNebraska’s ban on marriage equality is overly broad, in comparison to other bans that are already being struck down.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Nebraska doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships, under a constitutional amendment approved by 70 percent of voters in 2000. The Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union – on behalf of a group dubbed Citizens for Equal Protection – sued the state in 2003 challenging the ban. U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon struck down the measure in 2005, ruling it was overly broad and deprived gays and lesbians of participation in the political process, among other things. But the victory was short-lived. In 2006, a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Bataillon’s ruling, reinstating Nebraska’s voter-approved ban.

The ACLU currently has no plans to re-file:

Since then, there have been no federal challenges filed against the Nebraska law, and the ACLU said Wednesday that it has no plans to challenge the law again.

Will someone step in to challenge this law? Or will this ban stand until the Supreme Court finally gets around to invalidating it?

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USA, Nebraska: Lawmakers Hold Hearing on Marriage Equality

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

NebraskaState Lawmakers convened a heating in Nebraska to discuss civil unions and marriage equality for same sex couples.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Nebraska lawmakers are trying to resolve legal conflicts for same-sex couples who qualify for benefits at the federal level and in states that allow gay marriage or civil unions, but whose relationships aren’t recognized here. Lawmakers convened a hearing on Friday in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that tossed out part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and cleared the way for legally married same-sex couples to receive federal tax, health and pension benefits. The hearing focused on restrictions in place for same-sex couples in Nebraska that want to marry, or have done so in other states. Nebraska doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships, under a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2000.

Could civil unions be on the table?

State Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha, who supports same-sex marriage, has said he wants to explore a possible “middle ground” of civil unions, which he believes would receive stronger support from voters. “I can come up with no other conclusion than gay people in loving relationships are a massive benefit to our state and our society,” Ashford said Friday.

Chicago Cubs owner Pete Ricketts is running for Hovernor of Nebraska, and is having his anti-gay bonafides called into question.

Joe.My.God reports:

The Cubs’ connection to the [Chicago gay pride] parade raised objections from a fellow Republican candidate, who said Thursday it called into question Ricketts’ gay-marriage opposition. Republican Beau McCoy said that Ricketts should be held responsible for the fact that the Cubs are supportive of the gay community. Ricketts said he had no involvement in that decision. He also said that despite some “difficult conversations” in his family, he and his sister remain family. “My sister is gay. I love her, but I disagree with her on this issue,” said Ricketts, an Omaha businessman.

Ricketts, Dubas and several of the other Nebraska gubernatorial candidates staked out their positions on gay marriage Thursday, the day before the Nebraska Legislature was set to hold a public hearing on the topic. In Nebraska, voters banned gay marriage in 2000. Gay couples who are legally married in other states qualify for federal benefits as the result of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. But their marriages are not recognized in Nebraska. All five Republican candidates say they want to keep it that way. Ricketts, McCoy, State Auditor Mike Foley and State Sens. Charlie Janssen and Tom Carlson are on record saying marriage should be between a man and a woman.

I just want to step back here for a moment and marvel that marriage equality is being talked about. In Nebraska. Wow.

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USA, Nebraska: Gubernatorial Candidate Supports Marriage Equality

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Annette DubasNebraska State Senator and candidate for Governor Annette Duba just came out in support of marriage equality. In Nebraska. Let me repeat that. In Nebraska. reports:

The Democratic hopeful from Fullerton, Nebraska shared that it was her brother’s coming out 26 years ago that set her on the path towards embracing marriage equality: “I came to realize I support marriage equality awhile ago,” Annette Dubas says. “It’s not an abstract idea to me.” … She says she is talking about same-sex marriage because she wants to elevate the subject, because there is still fear about coming out in small Nebraska towns, because having a gay brother changed her.

She lives in Nebraska. In Nebraska.

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USA, Nebraska: “Family” Group Goes After Trans Kids

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

NebraskaSeveral right-wing Christian groups in Nebraska have formed a new alliance. Their target – transgender kids.

Think Progress reports:

Two of Nebraska’s most prominent social conservative groups, Family First of Nebraska and the Nebraska Family Council, have combined to become the Nebraska Family Alliance. The new group’s first target is transgender students, encouraging supporters to contact the Nebraska School Activities Association and urge them not to solidify a policy that would allow transgender students to participate equally in school athletics.

We have to stand arm-in-arm with our transgender brothers and sisters and resist these attacks.

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