LGBT rights in Nebraska

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LGBT rights in Nebraska
Nebraska (US)
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1977
Discrimination protections No
Family rights
Recognition of
Same-sex marriage and civil unions banned by the state constitution

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of Nebraska face some legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Nebraska. Same-sex couples and families headed by same-sex couples do not have the same protections as opposite-sex couples.

Laws against homosexuality[edit]

All sodomy laws were repealed at the state level in June 1977.[1]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Nebraska voters adopted a constitutional amendment in November 2000 that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman and prohibited the recognition of same-sex relationships under any other name.[2]

A federal court challenge to the constitutional amendment, Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning, won in the U.S. District Court in 2005,[3] but lost in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006.[4] Opponents of the constitutional amendment did not seek review of that decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.[5]

Nebraska has extended hospital visitation rights to same-sex couples through a designated visitor statute.[6]

On August 30, 2013, the Lancaster County District Court refused to grant a divorce to two women who married in Iowa in 2009. Bonnie Nichols filed an appeal with the state appellate court. In March 2014, the Nebraska Supreme Court accepted a petition to hear the case, Nichols v. Nichols,[7] but in June dismissed it as premature for procedural reasons.[8]

Waters v. Heineman[edit]

The ACLU filed a lawsuit, Waters v. Heineman, in federal court on November 17, 2014, on behalf of seven same-sex couples.[9] The plaintiffs are seeking to overturn the Nebraska same-sex marriage ban and to have their out-of-state marriages recognized.[10] A hearing has been scheduled for January 29, 2015, before Senior Judge Joseph F. Bataillon.

Adoption and parenting[edit]

Nebraska permits adoption by individuals. There are no explicit prohibitions on adoption by same-sex couples. Second-parent adoptions by one party to a same-sex couple terminates the parental rights of the other party.[11]

On August 27, 2013, three same-sex couples filed a lawsuit against the state seeking the right to serve as foster and adoptive parents. It claimed that the state's policy against allowing two unrelated adults to adopt has been consistently enforced only against same-sex couples.[12]

Discrimination protection[edit]

Map of Nebraska counties and cities that have sexual orientation and/or gender identity anti–employment discrimination ordinances
  Sexual orientation and gender identity with anti–employment discrimination ordinance
  Sexual orientation with anti–employment discrimination ordinance
  Sexual orientation in public employment
  Does not protect sexual orientation and gender identity in employment

No provision of Nebraska law explicitly addresses discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation or gender identity.[13]

Hate crime laws[edit]

Nebraska's hate crimes law covers hate crimes based on sexual orientation but not those based on gender identity.[14]

Public opinion[edit]

Public opinion for same-sex marriage in Nebraska
Poll source Date(s)
Margin of
 % support  % opposition  % no opinion
New York Times/CBS News/YouGov September 20-October 1, 2014 721 likely voters ± 3.9% 40% 46% 14%
Public Policy Polling September 30-October 2, 2011 739 voters ± 3.6% 36% 54% 10%
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research August 2-4, 2011 305 adults ± 4% 42% 51% 12%

See also[edit]


  1. ^ William N. Eskridge, Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003 (NY: Penguin Group, 2008), 201n, available online, accessed April 10, 2010
  2. ^ David Orgon Coolidge, "Evangelicals and the Same-Sex 'Marriage' Debate," in Michael Cromartie, ed., A Public Faith: Evangelicals and Civic Engagement (Washington, DC: Ethics and Public Policy Center, 2003), 98-99, available online, accessed April 11, 2011
  3. ^ Omaha World-Herald: Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning, May 12, 2005 , accessed April 11, 2011
  4. ^ U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit: Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning, July 14, 2006, accessed April 11, 2011
  5. ^ Pierceson, Jason (2014). Same-Sex Marriage in the United States: The Road to the Supreme Court and Beyond. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 213. Retrieved July 25, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Hospital Visitation Rights". Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  7. ^ Bergin, Nicholas (March 28, 2014). "Same-sex couple asks Nebraska court to allow divorce". Journal Star. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  8. ^ Stoddard, Martha; Hammel, Paul (June 13, 2014). "Nebraska Supreme Court judges say appeal premature in same-sex marriage case". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved July 25, 2014. 
  9. ^ Pluhacek, Zach (November 17, 2014). "7 couples sue over Nebraska’s gay marriage ban". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  10. ^ "ACLU Files Lawsuit - Seeks Freedom to Marry for Nebraskans". ACLU Nebraska. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  11. ^ Human Rights Campaign: NebraskaAdoption Law, accessed April 11, 2011
  12. ^ O'Brien, Brendan (August 27, 2013). "Couples challenge Nebraska ban on gay adoptive and foster parents". Reuters. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  13. ^ Human Rights Campaign: Nebraska Non-Discrimination Law, accessed April 11, 2011
  14. ^ Human Rights Campaign: Nebraska Hate Crimes Law, accessed April 11, 2011