Appeals Court Puts Same-Sex Marriages On Hold In Nebraska

03/05/2015 06:54 pm ET | Updated May 05, 2015
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(Adds quotes from attorney general, ACLU, details, background)

March 5 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Thursday put on hold a federal judge's ruling that would have allowed same-sex couples in Nebraska to marry starting on Monday.

The order came hours after the U.S. Supreme Court said it would hear oral arguments on April 28 on the question of whether states have the right to ban gay marriage, as Nebraska does by a state constitutional amendment.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon on Monday found the Nebraska ban on gay marriage unconstitutional and issued a preliminary injunction in the case brought by seven same-sex couples in the state.

Bataillon delayed the order from taking effect until Monday to address state officials' concerns of possible administrative turmoil. Nebraska officials quickly appealed the ruling to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The three-judge appellate court panel stayed Bataillon's ruling and scheduled oral arguments in the case for May 12 together with three other same-sex marriage cases pending before the 8th Circuit.

"We are glad the court has granted the stay because it provides current stability in Nebraska's marriage licensing process," Attorney General Doug Peterson said in a statement.

Danielle Conrad, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, which challenged the ban, said: "The discrimination that is enshrined in our constitution hurts our clients and countless other Nebraska families."

The Nebraska plaintiffs include Sally Waters, who has breast cancer that has spread and wants Nebraska to recognize her 2008 marriage to Susan Waters in California in part to provide financial protections for their children.

The Nebraska case raises the same questions the Supreme Court is expected to decide by the end of June in cases involving Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. (Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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