A gun bill in the Nebraska Legislature may have an unexpected effect: advancing gay rights.
Current gun laws allow non-resident military members to apply for a concealed gun permit without having to first live in Nebraska for 180 days to establish residency. Legislative Bill 190 would allow the spouses of non-resident military personnel to apply for concealed carry permits immediately.
The amendment was passed by the Unicameral with a first round of votes of 34-7 and a second round of votes of 38-0.
By using the military’s definition of “spouse,” the Unicameral may have extended rights to same-sex military couples as well.
In order for the bill to be enacted, it still needs to be signed by the governor.
Currently, the bill is on hold until next year because of a request by Nebraska Sen. Dave Bloomfield.
He initially sponsored the bill and believed it would have no effect on the current stance of same-sex marriage within the state of Nebraska. However, Bloomfield is cited as saying that given that Nebraska’s same-sex status may change in the coming months, the bill should be held over to prevent any uncertainty within the system.
For gay rights advocates, this move was surprising to say the least.
“I think that it’s a little silly that it took a gun rights fiasco to potentially acknowledge same sex marriage,” said Audrey Nance, OutSpeaking coordinator at the LGBTQA Resource Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “I’m a little more excited about the ACLU lawsuit, but we’ll take what we can get.”
According to its website, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of seven couples seeking state recognition of their marriages or the freedom to marry in Nebraska.
An oral argument will be held Feb. 19.
The Supreme Court has recently declined to block same sex marriage in several states, consequently allowing same-sex marriages. Only 12 states prohibit same-sex marriages: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.
Four of these states, having had their bans overturned, have resorted to staying same-sex marriage indefinitely.
Other states have resorted to similar tactics, such as the stalling tactics currently being employed by Alabama.
As of Jan. 15, the Supreme Court is currently hearing cases to overturn the ban on same-sex marriages in Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky.