Although there has yet to be an actual legal advancement made for the Nebraska gay community, at least in regards to homosexual relationships being granted the same privileges as heterosexual Nebraska marriages, there is proof of a decent fight being put up against the state's anti-gay laws. Up until 2005, a federal judge had never struck down a constitutional amendment set on limiting Nebraska marriages to heterosexual couples, especially not one that an overwhelming 70% of Nebraskan voters approved. U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon, however, changed all of that.
On May 12, 2005, after being challenged by the groups Lambda Legal, a gay rights organization, and the Lesbian and Gay Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, who strongly urged the judge to reconsider the provision of the Nebraska constitution, Section 29, which defined marriage as solely being between a man and a woman and prohibited all types of state recognized same-sex partnerships and civil unions (as well as same-sex foster parents), Judge Bataillon voided the same-sex Nebraska marriages ban which was signed in the year 2000, stating that it interfered with the rights of those in the Nebraska gay community.
He further supported his decision with the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and said that the ban deprived Nebraska gay and lesbian partnerships of participation in the political process. It was the first time that a state constitutional amendment of the kind, that is one which banned Nebraska marriages for same-sex partners, had been so clearly struck down by a court.
In a way, it can be said that the Nebraska gay marriage debate made history on this judge's decision alone. However, it was a verdict that the majority of Nebraskans were clearly not pleased with, and it did not last long. And so the controversial issue was brought to a higher court, yet again, and due to a very evident popular demand, a U.S. federal appeals court reversed Bataillon's ruling and reinstated the Nebraska gay marriage ban on July 14, 2006. The issue continues to be challenged by equal rights activists, Nebraska gay marriage supporters, and those who question if judicial power can, indeed, be so quickly overturned. If you need legal advice and assistance, contact Nebraska lawyers.