Same-sex marriage may soon be the law in 38 U.S. States. The 38th state to strike down a ban on same-sex marriage was Nebraska. This was a victory for equal rights as a federal judge said that gay people are not second-class citizens.
On March 2, 2015, U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon ruled Nebraska’s statewide ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. He issued the ruling and said county clerks will be permitted to issue gay marriage licenses starting on March 9, reported CNN News (3.3.15). Judge Bataillon had determined that Nebraska’s ban, defining a valid marriage as one between a man and a woman, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
In the posted order, Judge Bataillon called Nebraska’s ban an “unabashedly gender-specific infringement of the equal rights of its citizens.” The ban had been approved by 70 percent of Nebraskan voters in 2000.
The judge also denied a stay of the decision requested by the state. The Nebraska attorney general’s office said it would appeal the judge’s order.
In another landmark decision for gay people in Nebraska, this month the state also lifted a 20-year policy that banned gays and lesbians from becoming licensed foster parents simply because of their sexual orientation. The policy had barred unmarried, unrelated adults who live together from becoming foster parents or from having children placed with them. Included in the restriction were same-sex couples, unmarried heterosexual couples and platonic roommates.
The 12 states that still ban gay marriage are Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to make a final decision sometime in June on a larger challenge to the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans. Joining the supporters of gay marriage, a number of major financial firms of Wall Street, including AIG, Bank of America, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs JPMorgan and UBS signed a “friend of the court” brief pressing the Supreme Court to back same-sex marriage. According to CNN News (3.4.15), the banks said that the current legal confusion over same-sex marriages was making it hard to conduct business.
Same-sex couples should be treated the same as different sex couples when it comes to the rights, protections, obligations and benefits of marriage. Discrimination, whether it’s based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or other reasons, is inconsistent with the values and ideals of this country and only divides people.
The CNN News stories cited are “Then there were 12: Nebraska ordered to end same-sex marriage ban” and “Wall Street pushes SCOTUS on gay marriage.”