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Federal judge strikes down Nebraska same-sex marriage ban

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Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, immediately denounced the ruling, and said the majority of Nebraskans voted for the constitutional amendment.

“The definition of marriage is an issue for the people of Nebraska, and an activist judge should not substitute his personal political preferences for the will of the people,” Ricketts said.

Susan and Sally Waters of Omaha, who have been together for 17 years and were legally married in California in 2008, are among the couples suing to overturn the ban. They returned to their native Nebraska in 2010.

Sally Waters was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer in 2013, and says that without formal recognition of their marriage, her spouse won’t receive the same tax and Social Security benefits to take care of the couple’s children and will have to pay an 18 percent inheritance tax on half of the property they share, including their family home.

Another plaintiff, Nick Kramer, said he wants the ban to be overturned to give his partner, Jason Cadek, automatic custody rights for his adopted 3-year-old daughter. Kramer and Cadek married in Iowa in 2013.

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“We’re excited about this ruling and happy that Judge Bataillon decided that our family was worth recognizing.”

Danielle Conrad, executive director of the ACLU of Nebraska, said “Nebraska’s motto of ‘equality before the law’ rings true for gay and lesbian Nebraskans who seek to have their marriages recognized,” following Bataillon’s ruling.

Same-sex marriage is currently legal in 37 states and the District of Columbia. The U.S. Supreme Court announced Jan. 17 that it would decide whether same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry everywhere in the U.S. A decision is expected by late June.

The ruling is here → | The State’s Notice of Appeal is here

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Marriage News Watch, March 2, 2015

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