OMAHA — As state bans on same-sex marriages fall across the country, some Nebraska officials are holding strong to that state’s status of having one of the nation’s most restrictive laws, which affects some of the most basic aspects of gay couples’ lives — from driver’s licenses to parenting rights.
Nebraska voters passed a state constitutional amendment in 2000 banning same-sex marriages, civil unions, or even legalized domestic partnerships, and it has withstood all legal challenges. The state’s hardline stance is especially jarring compared with neighboring Iowa, which was one of the first states to legalize same-sex marriage in 2009, says Charlie Joughin, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign.
‘‘If you live in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and work in Omaha, just driving across the [Missouri] river, you immediately lose any and all legal connection to your spouse and your family,’’ he said.
Federal appeals courts covering nearly half the United States will soon hear arguments on gay marriage, after numerous bans were struck down in the last eight months. A federal judge ruled Nebraska’s ban was unconstitutional in 2005, but a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed the decision a year later.
Sue Stroesser, 51, learned how far-reaching Nebraska’s ban is when she recently returned to Omaha after spending years in Washington state and Iowa. Stroesser and her partner of 30 years were married in Iowa in 2009, and she took her spouse’s last name.
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