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ACLU of Nebraska Marriage Equality Lawsuit and Legislature Equality Agenda

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Marriage equality lawsuit plaintiffs Sally and Susan Waters of Omaha have been together 17 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. 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” —Sally (Photo by Jason McClaren)

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Marriage equality lawsuit plaintiffs Nick Kramer & Jason Cadek of Omaha. “It’s amazing how having a child changes everything. We want Nebraska to recognize our marriage for Alice and our family. She deserves the same happiness, opportunity, and security that so many other children have” —Nick (Photo by Jason McClaren)

Bold Nebraska supports marriage equality and the efforts of local groups including the ACLU of Nebraska, HRC Nebraska, and state senators working to put in place protections for the LGBT community in the workplace, housing, and elsewhere inequalities still exist.

ACTIONS:

EQUALITY AGENDA IN THE UNICAM:

UPDATE: The Equality Agenda bills will have their first hearing before the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 4 at 1:30 p.m. in Room 1113 of the State Capitol.

Thanks to Nebraska State Senators Adam Morfeld, Sara Howard and Jeremy Nordquist for introducing bills aimed at extending workplace protections to the LGBT community, remove discriminatory limitations on the rights of same-sex couples and other unmarried pairs to adopt children or become foster parents, and eliminate discrimination towards gay and lesbian foster parents regardless of relationship status. Read the Lincoln Journal Star’s report on the Equality Agenda.

  • LB 586: (Morfeld, Haar, Hanson, Howard, Nordquist, Pansing Brooks) The bill would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the classes protected from discrimination in employment under state law.
  • LB 648: (Howard, Hansen, Morfeld, Nordquist, Pansing Brooks) The bill would allow same-sex couples and other unmarried pairs to adopt children.
  • LB 647: (Nordquist, Campbell, Howard, Morfeld, Pansing Brooks) The bill would allow same-sex couples and other unmarried pairs to become foster parents, and end discrimination towards gay and lesbian foster parents regardless of relationship status.

*Sign the petition: Tell Nebraska State Senators to support the Equality Agenda*

MARRIAGE LAWSUIT UPDATES:

1/28/15:

Federal judge Joseph Battalion on Tuesday denied the state of Nebraska’s motion to stay a lawsuit seeking to overturn Nebraska’s discriminatory law banning marriage for same-sex couples, and set a hearing date of Feb. 19 to discuss a motion for preliminary injunction where attorneys will argue whether same-sex marriages should go forward immediately while the case moves through the federal court.

The Judge “said the fact that same-sex marriage cases are pending at the U.S. Supreme Court does not provide a reason to stay the proceedings,” and “pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court has denied stays in cases in circuits where same-sex marriage bans have been struck down,” the Journal Star reported.

“Whatever public interest the state has is insufficient in light of the plaintiffs’ showing of serious, irreparable and immediate harm,” Bataillon wrote.

Attorneys for the couples with the ACLU of Nebraska and local firm Koenig Dunne argued that they urgently need the protections of marriage and “would suffer serious and irreparable harms should the court stay the proceedings until the Supreme Court issues its opinion.”

One of the plaintiffs, Sally Waters, has cancer and her children will be denied critical financial protections if she dies before the issue is resolved. Another, Chrystal Von Kampen, a disabled Iraq War veteran, will be denied financial protections married couples are afforded until her marriage in another state is recognized.

Danielle Conrad, executive director of the ACLU of Nebraska, called Bataillon’s decision good news:

“We look forward to our day in court so that we can continue fighting for our clients and the thousands of gay and lesbian Nebraskans that should have the freedom to marry and their relationships recognized. It is time to end the discrimination that is enshrined in our Constitution.”

11/17/14

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17, 2014

Contact: Tyler Richard, trichard@aclunebraska.org, 402.476.8091 x104, 402.202.6211
212-549-2666, media@aclu.org

ACLU Files Lawsuit – Seeks Freedom to Marry for Nebraskans

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.

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Marriage equality lawsuit plaintiffs Crystal Von Kampen & Carla Morris-Von Kampen. “Because of what I gave for my country, I am now disabled. My wife and the family we’ve created are facing challenges because Nebraska doesn’t recognize our marriage. The families of all veterans need to be honored, no matter what state we call home” —Crystal

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Marriage equality lawsuit plaintiffs Jessica & Kathleen Källström-Schreckengost of Omaha. “We decided to move back to the ‘Good Life’ to raise our son. We had to choose between a good quality of life and legal security. Our family should have both the quality of life that comes with Nebraska and the security that comes with legal marriage” —Kathleen (Photo by Jason McClaren)

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Marriage equality lawsuit plaintiffs Marj Plumb & Tracy Weitz of Omaha. “I was born and raised in the Midwest, with siblings, nieces and nephews and their families now within a day’s reach. We didn’t come to Nebraska to pick a fight. What we relied on when we made the decision to move to a state whose law does not recognize our marriage is the belief that deep down Midwesterners believe in fairness and equality and that this would soon change” —Marj (Photo by Jason McClaren)

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Marriage equality lawsuit plaintiffs Tom Maddox & Randy Clark. “Essentially, in addition to preparing our joint Federal income tax return, I would need to prepare mock federal income tax returns as single individuals for each of us to satisfy Nebraska. It is an undue burden for married same-sex couples who would need to incur significant additional professional tax preparation expenses. It is demeaning to have Nebraska make us say we ‘single’” —Randy

Marriage Equality Lawsuit Plaintiffs

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