Earlier today, federal Judge Joseph F. Bataillon in Nebraska struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, ruling in favor of marriage equality. In striking down the marriage ban, Judge Bataillon’s ruling requires all state officials to treat same-sex couples equally for the purposes of marriage effective March 9.
The ruling was in the case Waters v. Ricketts, which was filed on November 17 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska. The case was filed on behalf of seven same-sex couples who either were unmarried and wanted to marry in Nebraska or were married out of state and sought respect for their marriages within the state.
Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson has already said it will appeal the order to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Judge Bataillon’s ruling stated:
Nebraska’s “Defense of Marriage” Constitutional Amendment, Section 29, is an unabashedly gender-specific infringement of the equal rights of its citizens. The State primarily offers as its rational basis for this gender-specific discrimination the encouragement of biological family units. The essence of this rationale has been rejected by most courts and by no less than the Supreme Court. With the advent of modern science and modern adoption laws, same sex couples can and do responsibly raise children. Unfortunately, this law inhibits their commendable efforts.
For the majority of married couples, those without children in the home, marriage is a legal and emotional commitment to the welfare of their partner. The State clearly has the right to encourage couples to marry and provide support for one another. However, those laws must be enforced equally and without respect to gender.