Nebraska State Senator Brad Ashford announced Friday that he plans to hold public hearings to begin the process of recognizing same-sex couples married in other states.
“We need to forge ahead in my view and join the rest of the country in recognizing marriage equality. How we get there will be very difficult.”
Difficult might be an understatement. Nebraska voters passed their own “DOMA” amendment to the State Constitution in 2000 by over 70% of the popular vote. The amendment reads: “Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in Nebraska. The uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership or other similar same-sex relationship shall not be valid or recognized in Nebraska.”
“It’s a hard one for some who have grown up in a traditional view of marriage. I get it,” Senator Ashford told reporters. “But there’s nothing in marriage equality that will prevent those traditional values to continue.”
Senator Ashford, a former judge and mayoral candidate who lists his party affiliation as Independent, says he will begin the process of repealing Nebraska’s DOMA amendment by holding public hearings. The first of those hearings will discuss recognizing the same-sex couples residing in Nebraska, who were married in states where it is legal to do so.
Senator Ashford says he will emphasize the economic component of recognizing same-sex couples, who might otherwise leave the state, or not move to Nebraska in favor of states that offer them the financial and tax benefits of a married couple. Another issue discussed will be what rights to grant to same-sex couples serving at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska. Senator Ashford plans to begin the series of public hearings this fall.
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