- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The latest reaction in Nebraska to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage (all times local):

2 p.m.

Eric Berger, an associate professor at the University of Nebraska College of Law, says Gov. Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson are smart to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling instead of trying to fight it.

Berger says, “They would have lost anyway and have had to pay attorney fees.”

Berger says public opinion was likely a factor in the decision, noting the court doesn’t want to be too far in front of or too far behind the rest of the country.

He says, “This is now an issue where the majority of Americans now favor same-sex marriage. Among younger people, most now support it.”

Berger says legal scholars might be surprised that Justice Anthony Kennedy rooted the decision more in arguments about liberty than about equality, determining that same-sex couples are entitled to marriage as a fundamental right, and not just a matter of receiving the same benefits offered to other couples.

Berger says it remains to be seen how that difference might play out in future court rulings.

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1:35 p.m.

The lone Democrat in Nebraska’s congressional delegation is applauding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage across the country.

Rep. Brad Ashford says, the ruling “makes clear that discrimination against anyone based on their sexual orientation has no place in America.”

Ashford adds that, “Same-sex marriage bans impose countless burdens and indignities on gay and lesbian couples and their children and serve no legitimate governmental objective.”

The decision does not ask people to abandon their principals on the issue, he says, but to accept that the country is diverse and that people must “embrace those who might not hold our same beliefs.”

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12:05 p.m.

U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse is denouncing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that strikes down Nebraska’s same-sex marriage and civil union ban.

The Nebraska Republican elected in November said the high court overstepped its constitutional role and imposed its own definition of marriage on the American people.

The ruling “is a disappointment to Nebraskans who understand that marriage brings a wife and husband together so their children can have a mom and dad,” Sasse said. “As President Obama has said, there are good people on both sides of the issue. I hope we all can agree that our neighbors deserve the freedom to live out their religious convictions.”

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11:50 a.m.

Several same-sex couples who sued last year to try to force the state to recognize their marriages shed tears of happiness over the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturns the state ban.

Susan and Sally Waters, of Omaha, who were married in 2008 in California, have not had the marriage recognized in Nebraska until Friday. Both said they were shocked and thrilled by the decision. They attended a news conference Friday to address the high court’s ruling, along with their 10-year-old daughter, Jade.

“It’s not that we didn’t think it might happen, but you always prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Susan Waters said.

Nick Kramer and Jason Cadek, who also attended with their young daughter, said the plaintiffs plan to host a party at the Magnolia Hotel in downtown Omaha on July 10 to celebrate. All supporters and friends are invited, Kramer said.

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11:05 a.m.

Some Nebraska counties have begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Susan Ann Koenig, an attorney who represented seven same-sex couples who sued last year to challenge Nebraska’s ban, says Lancaster and Douglas counties have begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She says some same-sex marriage ceremonies have begun at the Douglas County Courthouse.

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10:40 a.m.

Gov. Pete Ricketts says the state will respect the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturns same-sex marriage bans in Nebraska and the rest of the country.

But Ricketts noted Friday that 70 percent of Nebraska voters approved the state’s constitutional amendment in 2000. The amendment had forbidden same-sex marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships.

Ricketts, a Republican, opposes same-sex marriage.

“We will follow the law and respect the ruling outlined by the court,” Ricketts said in a statement.

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10:25 a.m.

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson is criticizing the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling but says the state will comply with the decision.

Peterson argued Friday that the five justices who voted in favor of same-sex marriage created a new constitutional right based on sexual choices.

Peterson, a Republican, says the decision will keep people from deciding marriage policy through the democratic process, and he argues that it represents a profound loss of freedom. Peterson says more than two-thirds of the states that issue same-sex marriage licenses do so because of a court order.

But Peterson says the state recognizes the rule of law and will not enforce any Nebraska statutes that contradict U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

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9:30 a.m.

Gay couples in Nebraska will now have their marriages legally recognized in the state that has had one of the most restrictive same-sex union bans in the country.

With the U.S. Supreme Court declaring Friday that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States, couples who have long sought the right to marry in Nebraska are celebrating.

Bil Roby and Greg Tubach, of Lincoln, plan to apply for a marriage license as soon as possible. They are among seven same-sex couples who sued last year to try to force the state to recognize their marriages, challenging the constitutionality of the state’s ban, approved by 70 percent of voters in 2000. In addition to prohibiting gay marriage, it also forbid civil unions and outlawed domestic partnerships.

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