Neb. Lawmakers React to Gay Marriage Ruling

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Gay couples in Nebraska will now have their marriages legally recognized in the state that has had one of the most restrictive same-sex union bans in the country.

With the U.S. Supreme Court declaring Friday that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States, couples who have long sought the right to marry in Nebraska are celebrating.

Bil Roby and Greg Tubach, of Lincoln, plan to apply for a marriage license as soon as possible. They are among seven same-sex couples who sued last year to try to force the state to recognize their marriages, challenging the constitutionality of the state's ban, approved by 70 percent of voters in 2000. In addition to prohibiting gay marriage, it also forbid civil unions and outlawed domestic partnerships.

Governor Pete Ricketts issued the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states:

“The U.S. Supreme Court has spoken and ruled state same-sex marriage bans to be unconstitutional. While 70 percent of Nebraskans approved our amendment to our state constitution that defined marriage as only between a man and a woman, the highest court in the land has ruled states cannot place limits on marriage between same-sex couples. We will follow the law and respect the ruling outlined by the court.”

Sasse Statement on Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Ruling
U.S. Senator Ben Sasse issued the following statement after the Supreme Court handed down its decision on same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges:

“Today’s ruling is a disappointment to Nebraskans who understand that marriage brings a wife and husband together so their children can have a mom and dad. The Supreme Court once again overstepped its Constitutional role by acting as a super-legislature and imposing its own definition of marriage on the American people rather than allowing voters to decide in the states.

“As a society, we need to celebrate marriage as the best way to provide stability and opportunity for kids. As President Obama has said, there are good people on both sides of the issue. I hope we all can agree that our neighbors deserve the freedom to live out their religious convictions.”

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson Reaction:

Today five Supreme Court Justices created a new constitutional right based upon sexual choices. The Constitution doesn’t speak, one way or the other, to the question of same-sex marriage. Under our system of federalism, the definition of marriage as a male-female union is properly a matter of state law. I agree with Chief Justice Robert’s contention that “The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent.”

The Court overstepped its proper role in our system of government. Instead of interpreting and applying the law, the Court invented a new constitutional right. Nothing in the Constitution mandates a nationwide redefinition of marriage. Sadly, the Court stripped all Americans of our freedom to debate and decide marriage policy through the democratic process. The freedom to democratically address the most pressing social issues of the day is the heart of liberty. The Court took that freedom from the people.

In addition to Nebraska, Americans in 30 other States have voted to affirm marriage in their constitutions, while the people of only 3 states have voted to redefine marriage. Of the states that now issue same-sex marriage licenses, more than 2/3 had it imposed by court dictate. The Court’s decision represents a profound loss of freedom. It shows a lack of faith in democracy for the Court to force this decision on every state.

Nebraska has until today’s decision in Obergefell relied upon the 8th Circuit’s 2006 opinion in Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning, which specifically upheld the constitutionality of Nebraska’s marriage laws. Obergefell has effectively reversed the 8th Circuit’s sound decision in Bruning and effectively renders the state’s case in Waters v. Ricketts, currently pending in the 8th Circuit, moot.

Recognizing the rule of law, the State of Nebraska will comply with the ruling of the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell. Nebraska officials will not enforce any Nebraska laws that are contrary to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell.