Monday, November 17, 2014

ACLU Nebraska files federal lawsuit challenging state's gay marriage ban

Last week, the Omaha World-Herald, then the Lincoln Journal-Star published leaked accounts of a forwarded email disclosing that the ACLU would file a lawsuit challenging the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage (Initiative 416), one of the strictest in the nation, passed in 2000.
     This morning, in a conference room opposite the snowy courtyard of the Magnolia Hotel in downtown Omaha, the Nebraska ACLU announced that it, the American Civil Liberties Union and the law firm of Koenig | Dunne have sued Gov. Heineman over the state ban.
     Nebraska had been the only state within the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals district without a federal challenge to a law banning same sex marriage.
     Nebraska's GOP Governor-elect, TD Ameritrade scion Pete Ricketts, has already vowed to fight challenges to the state's ban. So has the state's current GOP governor, Dave Heineman, who, in respect of his unrelenting hostility to LGBTs, is quite a piece of work.
Download this file (Waters_v_Heineman.pdf)Waters_v_Heineman.pdf

From the press release:

November 17, 2014

OMAHA, Neb. – The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Nebraska and the law firm of Koenig | Dunne filed a lawsuit in federal court today on behalf of seven couples who seek state recognition of their marriages or who seek the freedom to marry in Nebraska.
     “Today is an exciting day for all Nebraskans because freedom means freedom for everyone. The couples we represent in this historic case are all tax paying citizens who are active in their communities and who are contributing positively to our economy. These families have served our country, are successful in their professions, and are parents raising children. The couples we represent seek nothing more and nothing less than the freedom to marry who they love. Nebraska has waited long enough it is time for the Cornhusker state to extend the freedom to marry to all its citizens,” said ACLU of Nebraska Executive Director Danielle Conrad.
     The plaintiffs include Susan and Sally Waters of Omaha who have been together for seventeen years.
     In January 2013, Sally was diagnosed with breast cancer which has progressed to stage four and is considered terminal.

     “We have said publicly before God, our family and our friends that we love each other and are committed to one another and our children,” said Sally Waters, “At this moment, I want to spend time loving my children and my wife while knowing that should I die, they will be cared for. By not recognizing my family, Nebraska is making a difficult situation much more difficult emotionally and financially.”
     Other plaintiffs include:
  • Nick Kramer & Jason Cadek: The couple resides in Omaha with their three year old daughter Alice. They are both employed, own their home, have been in a relationship for ten years and were legally married in 2013.
  • Jessica and Kathleen Källström-Schreckengost: The couple resides in Omaha with their infant Sebastin. They are respectively a lawyer and a therapist. The couple has been in a relationship for almost ten years as they began dating in college. They were legally married in 2010.
  • Crystal Von Kampen & Carla Morris-Von Kampen: The couple resides in their hometown of Norfolk. Crystal is a disabled Veteran and Carla is an advocate for families that have disabled children. The couple has been together for five years and celebrated the first anniversary of their marriage in November 2014. The couple has three adult children.
  • Greg Tubach & Bil Roby: The couple resides in Lincoln and have been together for twenty eight years. Both are employed and they own homes in Nebraska. The couple is not married but seeks the freedom to marry in Nebraska.
  • Marj Plumb & Tracy Weitz: The couple resides in Omaha with their two dogs and has been together for over ten years. The couple was legally married in 2008.  Both are successful professionals and came to Nebraska for a job opportunity in 2014.
  • Dr. Tom Maddox & Randy Clark: Tom is a native Nebraskan who graduated from the University of Nebraska and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. After graduation he pursed his medical residency in Missouri where he met Randy. Randy is a CPA. They couple has been together for over 30 years and were married in 2008. They currently reside in La Jolla California. They visit family in Nebraska regularly and own commercial property in Nebraska.
"These families simply want the security and recognition that only marriage provides," said Amy Miller, legal director of the ACLU of Nebraska. "It is wrong for the state to treat these loving and committed couples as second-class citizens. When a family has roots in Nebraska or wants to call Nebraska home, they should be able to do so without being treated as legal strangers.”
The lawsuit will be filed in the U.S. District Court. The plaintiffs allege that the state’s constitutional marriage ban unlawfully discriminates against lesbians, gay men, and their children. Due to Sally Waters’ medical condition, the attorneys will be filing a separate motion for emergency relief.
     Polls indicate that a majority of Americans support the freedom to marry for all citizens. Currently 33 jurisdictions in the United States grant or recognize the freedom to marry for same sex couples.
     For bios of the clients:

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