Federal judge rules Nebraska same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional
Federal judge rules Nebraska same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional

A judge for the US District Court for the District of Nebraska [official website] ruled [memorandum and order, PDF; injunction, PDF] Monday that Nebraska’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional, but the decision will not take effect until March 9 and has immediately been appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. US District Judge Joseph Bataillon made the determination in a lawsuit [JURIST report] brought in November by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska [advocacy website] on behalf of seven same-sex couples challenging the ban. Currently, the adopted state constitutional amendment defines marriage as only between one man and one woman and does not recognize civil unions, domestic partnerships or similar relationships for same-sex couples. Although the ban was approved by 70 percent of voters in 2000, Bataillon found that it is an “unabashedly gender-specific infringement of the equal rights of its citizens.” Bataillon had previously struck down Nebraska’s same-sex marriage ban in 2005, and the Eighth Circuit panel reinstated the ban in 2006.

Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] continues to be one of the most polarizing legal topics in the US today. Same-sex marriage is currently permitted in 37 states and the District of Columbia. In February a Texas county judge ruled that the state’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional [JURIST report]. The US Supreme Court announced in January that it would decide [JURIST report] whether same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry everywhere in the US. A decision is expected by late June.