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http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/15/us...=1&oref=slogin

July 15, 2006

In Nebraska and Tennessee, More Setbacks to Gay Rights

 

By PAM BELLUCK and GRETCHEN RUETHLING

Opponents of same-sex marriage won victories yesterday in Nebraska and Tennessee, with courts in both states siding with efforts to amend state constitutions to prohibit such unions.

 

In Nebraska, a federal appeals court, the highest-level federal court to take up the issue, reinstated a ban on same-sex marriage that had been approved by voters in 2000. A federal district judge had overturned the ban last year, saying it was discriminatory and punitive.

 

In Tennessee, the State Supreme Court ruled that a proposed constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage could stay on the November ballot. The American Civil Liberties Union had sued to block the measure on technical grounds, saying the state had not met notification requirements. The court dismissed the suit, saying the A.C.L.U. had no standing.

 

The rulings came a week after courts in New York and Georgia sided with opponents of same-sex marriage. The New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, ruled that the State Constitution did not require same-sex marriage. The Georgia Supreme Court reinstated a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and legal benefits to same-sex couples in civil unions.

 

This week, the highest court in Massachusetts, which ruled in 2003 that same-sex marriage was legal, declined to block a ballot measure for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The legislature in Massachusetts, the only state where gay men and lesbians can marry, will vote on the measure in November. If the measure gets 50 lawmakers’ votes this year and again next year, it can appear on the ballot in November 2008.

 

“No doubt it’s been a tough week,” said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “But each one of these decisions stands on its own. This isn’t some tidal wave against us.”

 

The Nebraska case could be particularly significant because advocates of same-sex marriage could decide to appeal to the United States Supreme Court. The amendment, passed by 70 percent of voters, was more far-reaching than most other marriage bans because it denied same-sex couples who were state employees domestic-partner benefits, visitation rights and other benefits. In May 2005, Judge Joseph F. Bataillon of Federal District Court ruled that the amendment went “far beyond merely defining marriage as between a man and a woman.”

 

Judge Bataillon said it “imposes significant burdens on both the expressive and intimate associational rights” of gay men and lesbians “and creates a significant barrier to the plaintiffs’ right to petition or to participate in the political process.”

 

And Judge Bataillon added that the evidence suggested that the adoption of the amendment “was motivated, to some extent, by either irrational fear of or animus toward gays and lesbians.”

 

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit disagreed, ruling unanimously that “laws limiting the state-recognized institution of marriage to heterosexual couples are rationally related to legitimate state interests and therefore do not violate the Constitution of the United States.”

 

David Buckel, senior counsel at the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, which helped challenge the amendment, said no decision had been made on an appeal.

 

“It will take a while to understand exactly what the court did here,” Mr. Buckel said. “What struck me more than anything else was I couldn’t find our case in the decision. The decision seems to be about marriage, but our case wasn’t about marriage.”

 

Mr. Buckel said the plaintiffs’ case had focused on asking the court to set aside the amendment to give their clients time to press for legislation to allow domestic-partner benefits for same-sex couples.

 

Jon Bruning, the Nebraska attorney general, said, ““Today the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Nebraskans’ right to modify their Constitution as they see fit.”

 

Opponents of same-sex marriage celebrated yesterday’s rulings.

 

“We are pleased that this latest attempt by the homosexual agenda to radically redefine our culture has been stopped dead in its tracks,” Mathew D. Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said in a statement. “For the past two weeks, the same-sex marriage movement has been rocked backward by stunning court decisions in favor of traditional marriage.”

 

James Esseks, a litigation director for the A.C.L.U.., acknowledged that the Nebraska decision might embolden other states to pass more restrictive laws.

 

“What’s at stake here is the ability to participate in the political process equally and seek protections we think we ought to be able to have,” Mr. Esseks said. “We were seeking some protection for families that may be short of nothing. Nebraska says you get nothing. That’s astonishing.”

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“We are pleased that this latest attempt by the homosexual agenda to radically redefine our culture has been stopped dead in its tracks,” Mathew D. Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said in a statement. “For the past two weeks, the same-sex marriage movement has been rocked backward by stunning court decisions in favor of traditional marriage.”

 

Wait.... so "Nebraska Family Council" (which seems to have nothing actually to do with families as far as I can tell) gets this amendment on the ballot, does a huge campaign about it, the amendment passes and gays no longer have the right to any association or partnered representation or benefits. And the targets of this legislation are the ones with an "agenda"? Holy reality inversion Batman! Is blaming the victims an active hobby or just an asshole's past-time?

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Wait.... so "Nebraska Family Council" (which seems to have nothing actually to do with families as far as I can tell) gets this amendment on the ballot, does a huge campaign about it, the amendment passes and gays no longer have the right to any association or partnered representation or benefits. And the targets of this legislation are the ones with an "agenda"? Holy reality inversion Batman! Is blaming the victims an active hobby or just an asshole's past-time?

chalk it up to the right-wing delusion/requirement of persecution.

 

this is a pretty terrible law and seems to be vindictive in its broadness. utterly shocking and depressing.

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true, but at least for nebraskans that was the case when it passed a while back. what's shocking to me is that any self respecting judge upheld a law that clearly goes far beyond any reasonable scope in defining marriage. notice how the original ruling said the law goes “far beyond merely defining marriage as between a man and a woman...[it] imposes significant burdens on both the expressive and intimate associational rights” of gay men and lesbians “and creates a significant barrier to the plaintiffs’ right to petition or to participate in the political process." and the court of appeals overturned this on the basis that “laws limiting the state-recognized institution of marriage to heterosexual couples are rationally related to legitimate state interests and therefore do not violate the Constitution of the United States.” now i know not all of you have judging experience, but hopefully we can all understand how WOEFULLY NON-RESPONSIVE that is. "well, this goes beyond regulating marriage" ---"regulating marriage is related to state interests"...fuck. i'm not the only one who noticed it either “What struck me more than anything else was I couldn’t find our case in the decision. The decision seems to be about marriage, but our case wasn’t about marriage.”- david buckel, from the article.

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I've been defending how great our state is at camp... now I just give up.

 

Between this, the questions about how we're racist [OPS drama], and the corn jokes, I'm getting really sick of representing Nebraska.

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Nebraska sucks. Ever the more reason to voice differing opinions and hope shit like this is changed

 

Nebraska does suck. We went there for a tournament this year and it was like 15 below zero. Fucking corn.

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Nebraska sucks. Ever the more reason to voice differing opinions and hope shit like this is changed

 

Yep. So, some things we can do:

 

1. Battaillon is a District Court judge, and so is accountable to Nebraskan voters. There will likely be an attempt made to vote him out, and we should make an attempt to keep him in by voting for him (assuming he's on the ballot -- I'm not sure how often judges come up on the ballot?).

 

Circuit Court judges are unfortunately appointed by the President (with Senate approval), so not much we can do there immediately.

 

2. Vote against Dave Heineman, who as representative of the state was listed as defendant in the case along with his appointed Attorney General Joe Bruning. Heineman is up for re-election this November, competing against Democrat David Hahn. Hahn isn't progressive of course, but from what I've heard he isn't the Connealy/Nelson type either.

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Reading through the decision and noticed something....

 

In Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996), the Supreme Court considered an amendment to the Colorado Constitution barring all state and local governments from allowing “homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation, conduct, practices or relationships” to be the basis for a claim of “minority status, quota preferences, protected status or claim of discrimination.” The amendment invalidated certain local ordinances prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The Colorado Supreme Court held that any constitutional amendment that infringes on “the fundamental right to participate equally in the political process [by] ‘fencing out’ an independently identifiable class of persons must be subject to strict judicial scrutiny” under the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. Evans v. Romer, 854 P.2d 1270, 1282 (Colo. 1993). The Colorado Supreme Court then affirmed a later ruling that invalidated the enactment because the State failed to establish a compelling governmental interest satisfying strict judicial scrutiny. Evans v. Romer, 882 P.2d 1335 (Colo. 1994). A dissent noted that “[t]he Supreme Court of the United States has never held . . . that the right to participate equally in the political process is a fundamental right.” Id. at 1359 (Erickson, J., dissenting).

 

It was nice knowing you, 14th Amendment of the US Constitution...

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that's ridiculous. apparently i was misguided in thinking that there were guidelines (like, accuracy in the citing law) for being a judge. i'm actually surprised, which hasn't happened politically in like...a long time.

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Alright...yeah yeah, I'm sick of this shit just like everyone else. But my question is regarding why legal jargon regers to lesbian women and gay men. Aisde from the gender difference, arent they the same?

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This is...depressing. I can't beleive the courts are that political.

 

And I thought what my camp friend from Kansas was saying, that they aren't allowed to teach evolution (except as a part of the intelligent design process), was bad...

 

I hate the midwest.

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I'm a little baffled. I at least can understand the arguments against gay marriage ("My beliefs are right and yours are wrong, so mine should be made into law to save your soul."), but this definitely seems vindictive. I geuss legal benefits for same sex partners makes Jesus cry, too.

 

But in all seriousness, this really worries me. Not only are we making laws based off of religious doctrine, but apparently following the constitution is now optional for judges. Suh-weet.

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But in all seriousness, this really worries me. Not only are we making laws based off of religious doctrine, but apparently following the constitution is now optional for judges. Suh-weet.

 

Judges don't follow the constitution, lawmakers do that, judges interpret what exactly following the consitution is ;)

 

While yes this ruling is a bit extreme, to put it lightly, even for my conservative perspective, i don't know why everyone is denouncing Nebraska all of a sudden. It was a Federal Court ruling, shouldn't the thread be focused on those judges or perhaps the president(s) who appointed them? Unless of course you want to be pissed at the 70% of the people who voted for this originally, in that case I dunno why this is a new issue.

 

Besides, up on the ballot in Colorado this year will be as many as four intiatives against gay marriage, one of which is the "no legal status" intiative which would "prohibit the state from creating any legal status similar to marriage." This bothers me just as much if not more than the Nebraska amendment. Hey...I have an idea. If this and/or the other intiatives pass, lets start a "Colorado Sucks" forum!!! I like the sound of that :D

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Don't think I can make it, but....

 

This event has been forwarded to myself and I would like to present it to you.

 

Nebraska advocates who support equal rights for gays and lesbians are planning to encircle the Nebraska State Capitol on Friday, July 21 from 5:00 - 6:00.

 

This peaceful protest is in response to the July 14th decision by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which reinstated Nebraska's ban on same-sex marriage. The ban encompasses more than same-sex marriage, and could effectively

deny GLBT couple's in Nebraska the ability to lobby lawmakers.

 

If you are passionate about this issue please take some time out of your day and support the cause!

 

For more information please visit the website:

http://chain.ineb.org/

 

Best,

Adam Morfeld

Vice-President, UNL Young Democrats

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Nebraska does suck. We went there for a tournament this year and it was like 15 below zero. Fucking corn.

 

Fucking Missourians.

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the reason we're moaning about nebraska was that it was a federal court ruling that a dumbass law passed in and by nebraska was okey dokey. at very least it's a reminder and an "ok" on our suckiness. and just because colordao sucks too doesn't mean we suck any less, or that i can't complain about the state i live in. what's with you all defending NE allofa sudden?

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the reason we're moaning about nebraska was that it was a federal court ruling that a dumbass law passed in and by nebraska was okey dokey. at very least it's a reminder and an "ok" on our suckiness. and just because colordao sucks too doesn't mean we suck any less, or that i can't complain about the state i live in. what's with you all defending NE allofa sudden?

 

LOL, i liked the "all defending NE allofa sudden" part. I imagined you snapping ur fingers in my face while i read it.:P

 

I don't think I'm defending the state so much as I just thought this was old news really. By mentioning Colorado I simply was pointing out that I think Nebraska is about on par for most states in the country on this issue and gave our Rocky Mountain neighbor as an example. Tennessee obviously just gave a court ruling against homosexual marriage and even New York's courts recently ruled against homosexuals. NEW YORK!!! I'm not saying Nebraska is the greatest thing since sliced bread, just saying I thought they were on par with the rest of the country.

 

YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ME DEFENDING CORN COUNTRY...GIRRRLFRIEND!?!?!

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