Friday, May 31, 2013

LB385, bill allowing gay foster parents, is weakened but advanced in NE Unicameral

Antigay refusenik, NE State Senator Mark Christensen, who
once introduced a "justifiable homicide" antiabortion statute.
Despite his conservative stance, Christensen has twice tried to
pass legislation limiting the rights of Nebraska landowners.
To keep his bill alive, sponsor Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha had to significantly narrow its scope, which originally would have ended Nebraska's prohibition of openly gay couples or unmarried couples as foster parents.
     The revised bill will only allow gay couples to serve as foster parents if they are relatives or have had a previous "significant" relationship with the minor.
     Nordquist characterized his bill as a “common-sense” policy change recognizing that foster children are better off living with relatives or other people they know.
     On a 5-1 vote, with two senators absent the bill was advanced by the Judiciary Committee and will be taken up in the 2014 legislative session. The sole "nay" vote, predictably, came from Senator Mark Christensen, of Imperial, who has a history of antagonism toward legislation benefiting LGBTs. 
     Christensen said he was concerned that opening this door to gays and lesbians will lead to other changes.
     Nordquist said he will not attempt to broaden LB 385 beyond its current scope.

     But Omaha Sen. Brad Ashford, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he would like to see the Legislature consider doing more to end all discrimination against gays and lesbians.
     “It's coming. It's coming faster in other states,” Ashford said. “We need to have a healthy debate.”
     He called LB 385 “a very, very small step.”

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