State's same-sex marriage ban struck down, again

Jenna Stanley, left, and Kaily Brokaw were married in Omaha on June 26, the day same sex marriage became legal nationwide.

A federal judge has issued a permanent injunction striking down Nebraska's now-negated constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions.

The injunction, issued Thursday, was largely a formality because of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in late June that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also struck down Nebraska's ban following the high court's ruling.

The injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon orders state officials to treat same-sex couples the same as any other legally married couple in everything from processing marriage certificates to issuing birth certificates.

State attorneys had argued the injunction wasn't necessary because the state has complied with the Supreme Court's ruling. But the American Civil Liberties Union, representing several same-sex couples who challenged the state's ban in 2014, said the state's attempt last year to exclude same-sex spouses on their children's birth certificates showed otherwise.

Bataillon pointed to that issue as one reason the injunction was necessary. The judge wrote that same-sex couples "are at risk of more and additional deprivations until (the ban) is declared unconstitutional and its enforcement enjoined."

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services changed its policy in the fall and agreed to include same-sex spouses on their children's birth certificates.

Nebraska voters approved the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2000, with 70 percent voter support.

The ban is still written into the Nebraska Constitution. It's no longer enforceable, though a proposed amendment before a legislative committee would ask voters to formally remove the ban.

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