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Nebraska Supreme Court dismisses same-sex divorce appeal

Friday, June 13, 2014
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OMAHA, Neb. — 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.

gavelBonnie Nichols of Raymond married her longtime partner in 2009 and filed for divorce last year, but a Lancaster County judge ruled that the court couldn’t grant a divorce without recognizing the marriage.

Same-sex marriages began in Iowa in 2009, after the state’s Supreme Court struck down a law that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Iowa state law requires couples seeking a divorce in the state to live there for one year beforehand.

Nebraska, meanwhile, doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships because of a constitutional amendment that was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2000.

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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.

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