- Associated Press - Friday, February 5, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A federal judge has issued a permanent injunction striking down Nebraska’s now-negated constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions.

The injunction, issued Thursday, was largely a formality because of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in late June that legalized gay marriage nationwide. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also struck down Nebraska’s ban following the high court’s ruling.

The injunction issued by U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Bataillon orders state officials to treat same-sex couples the same as any other legally married couple in everything from processing marriage certificates to issuing birth certificates.

State attorneys had argued the injunction wasn’t necessary because the state has complied with the Supreme Court’s ruling. But the American Civil Liberties Union, representing several same-sex couples who challenged the state’s ban in 2014, said the state’s attempt last year to exclude same-sex spouses on their children’s birth certificates showed otherwise.

Bataillon pointed to that issue as one reason the injunction was necessary. The judge wrote that same-sex couples “are at risk of more and additional deprivations until (the ban) is declared unconstitutional and its enforcement enjoined.”

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services changed its policy in the fall and agreed to include same-sex spouses on their children’s birth certificates.

Nebraska voters approved the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2000, with 70 percent voter support. In addition to prohibiting gay marriage, it also outlawed civil unions and domestic partnerships, making it one of the most restrictive same-sex union bans in the country.

The ban is still written into the Nebraska Constitution. It’s no longer enforceable, though a proposed amendment before a legislative committee would ask voters to formally remove the ban.

The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office said Thursday it was reviewing the federal judge’s decision.

“The state of Nebraska is in full compliance with the Supreme Court’s decision … and has been since that decision was issued,” the Attorney General’s Office said in a written statement.


This story has been corrected to show the injunction was issued Thursday, not Tuesday.

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