Kathy Pettersen and Beverly Reicks helped shape history Friday morning as they became the first gay couple to file marriage paperwork at the Douglas County Clerk's Office after the Supreme Court announcement making it legal throughout the land.
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.
Bill 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.
Gov. Pete Ricketts issued the following statement:
“The U.S. Supreme Court has spoken and ruled state same-sex marriage bans to be unconstitutional. While 70 percent of Nebraskans approved our amendment to our state constitution that defined marriage as only between a man and a woman, the highest court in the land has ruled states cannot place limits on marriage between same-sex couples. We will follow the law and respect the ruling outlined by the court.”
Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson released a statement that said, in part, "Recognizing the rule of law, the State of Nebraska will comply with the ruling of the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell. Nebraska officials will not enforce any Nebraska laws that are contrary to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell."
Peterson also stated that he felt that the Supreme Court overstepped its proper role in our system of government, "Sadly, the Court stripped all Americans of our freedom to debate and decide marriage policy through the democratic process. The freedom to democratically address the most pressing social issues of the day is the heart of liberty. The Court took that freedom from the people."
U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R) Nebraska said, “There are good people with strongly-held beliefs on both sides of this issue. Now that the Supreme Court has spoken, it is my hope that all Nebraskans will treat one another with dignity and respect.”
The Nebraska Family Alliance issued this statement:
“Today's U.S. Supreme Court decision is historically tragic. The 5-4 ruling disregards the democratic process and strips all Americans of their ability to debate and decide marriage policy.
The Court's decision fails to adhere to the precedent set forth just two years ago in United States v. Windsor. In that case, Justice Kennedy described at length the deference the federal government must pay to the individual States and their definitions of marriage, citing case law as old as 1890.
What's more, instead of allowing Americans to affirm through their laws that a child's mom and dad are both essential in the child's life, the Supreme Court has instituted an edict that legally redefines marriage to be a genderless relationship based upon the emotions of adults.
This isn't the first time the Supreme Court has overstepped its role and just like before, this will not be the final word on this issue. The U.S. Constitution is absolutely silent on the definition of marriage, which makes it all the more egregious for five justices to brush aside the votes of tens of millions of voters throughout the country.
Nebraska Family Alliance is committed to advocating for strong families and the essential lifelong union of one man and one woman. Despite this ruling, there is much work that can be done to create a stronger marriage culture in our state and nation."
Archbishop of Omaha George Lucas, Bishop of Lincoln James Conley and Bishop of Grand Island Joseph Hanefeldt issued this statement:
"The Catholic bishops of Nebraska remind all people of good will that marriage is the sacred union of one man and one woman. Marriage, as ordained by God, is the cornerstone of every human family, an ancient tradition in every culture. No one can change that reality. The truth about marriage is written into the complementarity of men and women in the context of the family. We encourage all believers to be witnesses to the goodness and beauty of marriage as God has revealed it, and by their example to foster peace, love, mercy and joy as a witness to that truth."