LINCOLN, NE, March 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Homosexual activists celebrated another victory Monday as U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon once again ordered the state of Nebraska to stop enforcing its marriage protection amendment, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Bataillon, who was appointed by former president Bill Clinton, struck down the amendment when it was first challenged by gay activists ten years ago, but his decision was overturned by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. Now that gay activists have challenged the law again, the judge has issued a new ruling barring its enforcement, citing the recent string of federal court victories by supporters of same-sex “marriage.”
Bataillon said laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples unfairly discriminate based on “archaic” and “outdated” gender stereotypes.
“[Nebraska’s Marriage] Amendment explicitly creates a classification based on gender because a person's eligibility to marry, or to have his or her marriage recognized, is based on the gender of the individuals seeking to marry,” Bataillon wrote. “[It] is an unabashedly gender-specific infringement of the equal rights of its citizens.”
The judge rejected the state’s assertion that the citizens of Nebraska, who approved the marriage amendment in 2000 with 70 percent of the vote, should be the ones to make any changes to the societally accepted definition of marriage.
“The Amendment is not somehow insulated from review because it was enacted by a significant majority,” Bataillon wrote. “Minorities trampled on by the democratic process have recourse to the courts; the recourse is called constitutional law.”
Bataillon also rejected the state’s argument that traditional male-female marriages deserve special protection because they are the natural, ideal environment in which children are conceived and raised.
“With the advent of modern science and modern adoption laws, same sex couples can and do responsibly raise children,” the judge wrote. “Unfortunately, this law inhibits their commendable efforts.”
Bataillon condemned the state’s prohibition of adoption by same-sex couples as “particularly harmful” and “constitutionally repugnant.”
“The State's supposed purpose in channeling children into stable relationships is not served by a same-sex marriage ban,” Bataillon wrote. “It is both underinclusive in that it allows heterosexual people to have and rear children in unstable or abusive situations and at the same time prevents committed and stable same-sex couples from adopting and providing loving homes to children.”
“The policy has no rational connection to the State's purported purpose of strengthening families and, in fact, it thwarts that purpose by denying deserving children a stable home.”
In conclusion, the judge ordered state officials to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and granting full marital benefits to same-sex couples who “married” outside the state, writing: “All relevant state officials are ordered to treat same-sex couples the same as different sex couples in the context of processing a marriage license or determining the rights, protections, obligations or benefits of marriage.”
Homosexual activists praised Bataillon’s ruling Monday, with the Nebraska ACLU calling it “a day for celebration.”
One of the homosexual plaintiffs in the case, Tracey Weitz, said she and her lesbian lover were taking the ACLU’s words to heart. “I think we'll have a bigger party than we did when we were married,” she told KETV.
But others were not as pleased with the decision, including state officials and some religious leaders.
“Marriage is between a man and a woman, and has as one of its principal purposes the procreation and rearing of children,” Roman Catholic Archbishop George Lucas and Bishops James Conley and William Dendinger said in a joint statement. “Marriage was established by God before the state and before the Church, and the vitality of both depends on the fruitful union of husband and wife.”
“Because [Bataillon's] decision undermines the fundamental human right of every child to know, and as far as possible, be united with his or her mother and father, we pray for a just resolution in higher courts.”
Bataillon made his order effective March 9, to give state officials a week to appeal. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, a Republican, and Attorney General Doug Peterson immediately sought to overturn the ruling, filing a request for an emergency injunction with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“The definition of marriage is an issue for the people of Nebraska, and an activist judge should not substitute his personal political preferences for the will of the people,” Ricketts said. He said he and Peterson intend to keep up the fight to “uphold Nebraska's Constitution and the will of the people of our great state.”