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Nebraska teenage politico responsible for gay marriage initiative

By Riley S. Huskey
Sunday, November 27, 2011

One year after filing the initiative petition to end the same-sex marriage prohibition in the state of Nebraska, Chris Dyer, 18, is more dedicated than ever in reaching the required 112,877 signatures to place the Constitutional amendment repeal onto the 2012 ballot.

…And the number of signatures required grows each day until the legal deadline for collection passes, because more Nebraskans register to vote every day.

Chris Dyer

“The idea — the true process for filing this petition — began back in ninth grade,” Chris said. “It was after I watched the movie Boys Don’t Cry that I knew I had to do this.”

Three years after that idea, at age 17, Chris met with Tom Frye, who took to this young man’s interest for politics, aided in the necessary research and by sponsoring the initiative petition alongside Chris, the fight for repeal of Article I, Section 29, of the Nebraska State Constitution came to fruition.

Section 29 reads as follows:

Marriage; Same-Sex Relationships Not Valid or Recognized

“Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in Nebraska. The uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship shall not be valid or recognized in Nebraska.”

After the initial filing of the proposed measure, Chris and Tom agreed, the collection of so many signatures seemed daunting.

“If someone lit a fire under this kid, he would get this on the ballot, I am certain,” Tom said. “He is a pro-active gay youth who has political aspirations.”

Sitting down with touchemag.com in the Nebraska State Library at the State Capitol building seemed fitting. Before the interview began, Chris quietly walked to the second floor, placed his backpack upon the ground and walked up to one book sitting amongst thousands of others. Taking the book off the shelf, he brought it to the table, opened it, and slid it across the table: LB 472, sponsored by then-Sen. Ernie Chambers in January of 2007.

“I want to be able to say that I made a difference in others’ lives,” Chris said. “To give others equal rights and say I was officially part of it. The outlook may be dim, but I’m not going to give up.”

Looking to Martin Luther King, Jr., Harvey Milk, President Barrack Obama, among other past presidents for personal inspiration of change and equality, Chris’s political aspirations are more than the average teenager’s. First order of business—he wants to begin his career in politics in the Lincoln City Council—Mayor all the way up to President if he could choose his ultimate destiny. He smirks and bashfully jokes that King of a country wouldn’t be half-bad either.

“Politicians who don’t listen to their constituents, is what angers me most,” Chris said. “My biggest motivator for change is to change those politicians.”

After dropping out of Lincoln Northeast High School in 2010 due to his excessive absences with health concerns—scoliosis, fractured vertebrae, detaching tail bone and asthma—Chris received his GED in September. He points to the Governor of Utah, running for President, to show that you don’t have to have a high school diploma to do big things or influence others.

“Everyone should follow their dreams,” Chris said. “No matter how hard it seems, don’t ever give up. You will always find satisfaction in trying.”

Chris wrote his first letter to Governor Dave Heineman in September of 2009, at age 16, in hopes that he would support LGBT issues. Within two weeks, the Governor responded to Chris, disheartening his causes to advance Nebraska’s equality under the law.

“Once this petition takes off—win or lose—will start a chain reaction,” Chris said. “It will continue to push for social reform in our conservative state.”

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19 more reader comments:

  1. id sign it if i could

    Posted on Sunday, November 27, 2011 at 3:35pm
  2. Wow, I’m proud of this kid

    Posted on Sunday, November 27, 2011 at 3:36pm
  3. Im so glad I was able to get this story on there site!!!!

    Posted on Sunday, November 27, 2011 at 3:40pm
  4. ya Chris is a great guy

    Posted on Sunday, November 27, 2011 at 3:40pm
  5. Oh and if you live in Nebraska I ask you PLEASE HIT THAT SHARE BUTTON AND GET THE WORD OUT!!!

    Posted on Sunday, November 27, 2011 at 3:43pm
  6. Now this is what we need to see more…people like this guy! I agree with Serah, very proud of him also!

    Posted on Sunday, November 27, 2011 at 3:45pm
  7. legend :)… js

    Posted on Sunday, November 27, 2011 at 3:48pm
  8. As more and more youth like Chris get involved in making a change, the better this country will be. Go Chris…I believe in your dreams! Wish I lived in Nebraska to sign.

    Posted on Sunday, November 27, 2011 at 5:29pm
  9. I do admire this kid’s intentions with such an unfair and derrogatory admendment. Yet I do have to suggest that this is not the right time to push for an initiative in Nebraska.

    There are other major initiative going on nationwide and Nebraska should not be the foucs at this point. Maine just gathered enough signatures to put the gay marriage law again for people’s vote. Minnesota and North Carolina are about to vote on constitutional admendments banning same sex marriage. Likely Rhode Island, Maryland and Wshington state will be pushing for Same sex marriage through their respectively legislatures.

    Yet this is not my only reason to focus on other campaigns. On Septemeber 2011 a Public Policy Polling found that 36% of Nebraskan voters thought that Same sex Marriage should be legal and 54% thought it should be illegal with 10 % not being sure. This is just another fact that leads me to suggest that it is not the time for Nebraska to put any laws before its people only to see the initiative fail.

    Posted on Sunday, November 27, 2011 at 8:02pm
  10. as a person who lives in Nebraska. I was wondering where onecould go to, to sign this petition?

    Posted on Sunday, November 27, 2011 at 11:59pm
  11. I’m sure this young man means well. I hope he continues to learn more about the story of Teena Brandon. She suffered from sexual abuse as a girl, and then started dressing and living as a boy. What we need are efforts to reduce sexual abuse and abuse of all kinds so that girls won’t feel they need to pretend to be boys to try to protect themselves from abuse.

    Posted on Monday, November 28, 2011 at 7:07am
  12. This would go through in a minute if you called it a civil union. I admire his drive but as a Nebraskan marriage is between a man and a woman. BUT I am wiling to compromise. Same sex unions should be recognized but not as marriage. Therein though lies the problem….there will be no compromise on the other side even with willing compromise on the conservative side.

    Posted on Monday, November 28, 2011 at 7:26am
  13. @Nebraskan; We’re willing for some sort of compromise, but the wording of the amendment as it stands doesn’t even allow that much.”The uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship shall not be valid or recognized in Nebraska.” Removing the amendment is the first step towards compromise.

    Posted on Monday, November 28, 2011 at 2:28pm
  14. @truth: you’ve gotta be kidding me. Brandon Teena was a trans man, this is a well documented fact. Sexual abuse does not cause people to be trans. It’s one thing to use a trans murder victim to promote gay marriage; it’s another to erase his identity because you don’t want to deal with it.

    Posted on Monday, November 28, 2011 at 7:45pm
  15. I started this petition because it’s right, not just because I wanted to, I didn’t do it to make Nebraska, the focal point of everything happening in the United States, nor is it. This magazine addresses all issues relating to the LGBT community nationwide, The point of this petition is regardless of what a statistic says is to show just how much the attidue of Nebraskan’s has changed in 11 years, I’m not looking to make Nebraska the next state to allow same-sex marriage tomorrow, this is going to be a long haul that I’m not going to give up on regardless of what happenes in 8 months. I’m working with the High Schools and Colleges of Lincoln, to create a more organized and safer LGBT community, as we have a pride prom every year atteneded by some 200+ students from LPS. My Mother, knew Tina Brandon, I have had the pleasure of visiting her tomb stone, my family knows her cousin and Tina’s mom, which makes this fight all the more personal. The Point is we have to start somewhere. If you live in Nebraska, and would like to sign, or help with collecting signatures, and or know anyone who can give financial assitance to this effort, please call me at 402-570-7631, email me at chrisdyer02@gmail.com or add me on facebook.
    Best Regards to all who read this.
    Chris Dyer.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 7:01am
  16. Does anyone know how many signatures they have already?

    Posted on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 2:26pm
  17. You are a great person, a hero!I am surprised that Nebraska has such an unfair law, something out of a communist country! I saw that movie too. Keep the faith in your efforts!

    Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 6:17am
  18. I live in nebraska where do i sign :)

    Posted on Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 11:21pm
  19. Where and when? I’d love to sign.

    Posted on Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 6:13pm