Nebraska's Overreach & Overkill

Friday, May 13, 2005

Nebraska's Overreach & Overkill

Once again Nebraska has adopted a state constitutional amendment that is so broad and extreme that it's being struck down. First it was their ban on late-term abortions that didn't make any medical exceptions, now it's their ban on same-sex marriages.
A federal judge Thursday struck down Nebraska's ban on gay marriage, saying the measure interferes not only with the rights of gay couples but also with foster parents, adopted children and people in a host of other living arrangements.

The constitutional amendment, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, passed overwhelmingly in November 2000.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon said the ban ''imposes significant burdens on both the expressive and intimate associational rights'' of gays ''and creates a significant barrier to the plaintiffs' right to petition or to participate in the political process.''

Bataillon said the ban ''goes far beyond merely defining marriage as between a man and a woman.''

He said the amendment's ''broad proscriptions could also interfere with or prevent arrangements between potential adoptive or foster parents and children, related people living together, and people sharing custody of children as well as gay individuals and people inclined to align with them to promote changes in legislation.''
Of course this does not mean that same-sex marriages are legal in Nebraska now, similar to most states that pass these kinds of bans, this ban banned something that was already clearly banned. Just like the 11 state bans on same-sex marriage in 2004, the vote for this ban was in 2000, making it a textbook example of politically-motivated, election-year demagoguery.

However, Nebraska's ban on late-term abortions was struck down by the Supreme Court. This new ruling has some ways to go before reaching a conclusion, but this is a solid first step. I'm sure it'll make a lot of wingers go nuts, declare that judicial activism is forcing Nebraska to marry gay people (a BIG lie) but there is also an opportunity here to show how many of these anti-gay marriage laws are blatant, unnecessary attacks on American families-- gay, straight or otherwise. Let's hope that the Dems seize it.

No, I'm not holding my breath.

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