Senators seek to change ‘male’ and ‘female’ to ‘spouse’ in Nebraska marriage laws

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – In 2015, the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling said that all state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional.

Following that ruling, President Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act back in December.

It provided statutory authority for same-sex and interracial marriages.

But as it stands today, within state laws, documents and the Nebraska Constitution, marriage is referred to as between a “male” and “female.”

State Sens. John Fredrickson and Jen Day seek to update that language since marriages are now recognized between more than just male and female in federal law.

Supporters of the bill, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska and OutNebraska, said Wednesday that this affects over 67,000 Nebraskans.

“This bill proposes a simple change to government licenses that respects every couple seeking to marry,” said Aryn Huck, community organizer for OutNebraska. “LB 316 would finally update outdated language that currently denies gay couples’ existence. It is time for Nebraska’s marriage language to reflect the reality that gay couples can and do get married.”

Supporters of another measure, a constitutional amendment, spoke to similar ideals.

“Now is the time for us to update, be inclusive, and comply with the United States Constitution and the ruling of the United States Supreme Court,” attorney Susan Koenig said.

Those against argued that “since the dawn of time,” marriage has always been between man and woman.

“The family structure is the bedrock of society,” Yolanda Burgos said. “A solid family composed of a mother and a father is foundational and nurturing. It gives children the basic needs of security, comfort and belonging in an uncertain world.”

Marion Miner of the Nebraska Catholic Conference spoke against both bills.

“What the Constitution of Nebraska says currently now, about marriage, is true,” he said. “Removing that from the state constitution sends a message that, in fact, we were mistaken.”

Day wrapped up her hearing by saying that she wants this decision to go back to voters.

“I hope that we can move this potential amendment out so we can move it on to the voters and let them decide what they think,” she said.

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