In the wake of recent rulings by federal judges to strike down some state bans on same-sex marriage, gay marriage advocates are hoping to strike a similar blow to Nebraska's strict ban that also bars same-sex civil unions.
“We're very optimistic,” said the Rev. Scott Jones, senior minister at First Central Congregational Church in Omaha who married his partner, Michael, four years ago in a religious ceremony in Oklahoma. The couple moved to Omaha and formalized their marriage in Iowa, which allows same-sex marriage.
But the couple have faced problems trying to live as a married gay couple in Nebraska, including paying their taxes. They have to file separate state tax returns because Nebraska doesn't recognize their marriage.
Now Jones believes the overturning of all gay marriage bans “is inevitable.”
“We've already won hearts and minds on this issue,” he said.
A federal judge struck down Oklahoma's gay marriage ban Tuesday, though the order was put on hold while state and local officials complete an appeal. It was the second time in a month that a federal judge had set aside a deeply conservative state's limits on same-sex marriage, after Utah's ban was struck down in December.
Nebraska doesn't recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships under a constitutional amendment approved by 70 percent of the vote in 2000.
Excluding Utah and Oklahoma, Nebraska and 26 other states still have constitutional prohibitions on same-sex marriage. Four more — Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wyoming — do not permit it through state laws.
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