State lawmakers revive same-sex marriage debate - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

State lawmakers revive same-sex marriage debate

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By: Lauren Fabrizi

State lawmakers held a hearing Friday to address legal conflicts for same-sex couples who qualify for federal marriage benefits, but whose relationships aren't recognized in the state.

Five months ago, part of the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down, granting federal marriage benefits to same–sex couples.

But Robin Maril, an attorney with the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C., said this does not directly affect couples living in states like Nebraska that do not support gay marriage.

"Surviving same–sex spouses living in Nebraska will be considered ineligible to receive benefits because they are not considered married by their home state," Maril said.

Maril said those same–sex couples will have to file as individuals instead.

Sen. Ernie Chambers said the high court's ruling should be enough, and Nebraska should have to follow it.

"The federal should trump the state, and these things should be struck down," Chambers said.

Chambers said he's putting forth a bill in the upcoming legislative session to lift the ban on gay marriage in Nebraska.

But opponents said they will continue to push for their belief that marriage should be defined between a man and woman.

"This attempt to redefine marriage is just mind boggling to me that people would even think this is a good thing to do," Maris Bentley said. "Because it's not."

Maril said she believes it's likely this conflict will ultimately bring about a lawsuit. She said she believes it's just a matter of time.

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