03/05/2015 06:54 pm ET | Updated May 05, 2015

Appeals Court Puts Same-Sex Marriages On Hold In Nebraska

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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)


  • Walter Michot-Pool/The Miami Herald/Getty Images
    The same-sex couples who legally challenged Florida's marriage ban were present in court as a stay was lifted Monday. From left to right, Cathy Pareto and Karla Arguello, Jeff Delmay and Todd Delmay, David Price, Don Johnston and Jorge Diaz react as Florida joined 36 other states in allowing same-sex couples to marry. “I’m lifting the stay," announced Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel.
    Pareto and Arguello leave the courthouse to apply for a marriage license after the stay was lifted for Miami-Dade hours ahead of a midnight launch for same-sex marriage statewide.
    Pareto gets a hug from her mother, Marlene, as she waits to apply for a marriage license.
    Arguello places a ring on Pareto's finger as her mother, Berta Arguello, looks on holding flowers. The pair, who were wed by Judge Zabel, have been partners for 15 years. "It's been a long time coming," Pareto told the Associated Press. "Finally Florida recognizes us as a couple. It's just, I don't know, sweet justice."
    Pareto and Arguello share a kiss.
  • Joe Raedle/Getty Images
    Don Johnston and Jorge Diaz kiss after obtaining their marriage license from the Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts Monday.
    Vanessa Alenier holds up her number after waiting in line to apply for a marriage license with her partner, Malanie Alenier. The couple were among the six plaintiffs that sued Miami-Dade County for the right to marry.
    Jeff and Todd Delmay leave the courthouse after Judge Zabel lifted the stay. She then married the couple, who had already legally changed their names, are raising a son together and have been wearing wedding rings on their right hands for 12 years. “We have been reserving [our left ring fingers] for when it became official,” Todd Delmay told the Miami Herald. “This means so much to us.”
  • Joe Raedle/Getty Images
    The Delmays hold hands as they wait to receive their marriage license from the clerk of courts.
    Monday's lifting of the stay “lets families like ours be families,” Todd Delmay told CBSMiami.
    Couples including Juan Talavera, 46 (left, in blue), and his partner of 15 years, Jeff Ronci, 53, waited Monday to obtain marriage licenses.
  • Joe Raedle via Getty Images
    It was soon mission accomplished for Ronci and Talavera. At least two other counties in Florida will hold extended office hours to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.
    Deborah Shure and Aymarah Robles also applied for a marriage license in Miami.
  • Joe Raedle/Getty Images