Students march to Capitol in support of gay rights

GREG BLOBAUM/DN

Emily Tooker, 15, a Lincoln Southeast High School sophomore, helps hold up a large flag during a Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Straight Alliance-sponsored march and demonstration that ended on the steps of the Nebraska Capitol on T

Nebraska is one of 18 states that don’t allow same-sex marriage. In October, the Supreme Court of the United States decided against addressing cases regarding appeals to state laws blocking same-sex marriage, effectively legalizing it in five states.

The Nebraska State Constitution lists in Article I, Section 29 that “only a marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in Nebraska. The uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship shall not be valid recognized in Nebraska.” Nebraska voters adopted the amendment in 2000.

The Nebraska Supreme Court in June dismissed a case challenging Nebraska’s non-recognition law, citing jurisdiction issues. Courts haven’t addressed Nebraska’s same-sex marriage ban since 2006, when the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

reinstated the ban after the federal district court struck it down the year before.

Associate law professor Eric Berger said there are three ways Nebraska’s ban could be overturned.

1. Through the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Although the court upheld Nebraska’s ban in 2006, it could revisit the issue if another case appears before it.

2. Through the Supreme Court.

If the U.S. Supreme Court chooses to take a case regarding same-sex marriage and rules in favor of gay marriage, it would lift the prohibition and make the ban unconstitutional nationally.

3. Through a statewide ballot initiative.

Petitioners would have to collect signatures from at least 10 percent of Nebraska’s registered voters in order to put the issue to a vote.

Nebraska is a traditionally red state, so it could be one of the last states in the country to revisit the issue.

Interest groups have been advocating for a lift on the ban nationally and in Nebraska. One such group is the Human Rights Campaign, which founded a chapter in Nebraska this year.

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