Nebraska Initiative 416

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Nebraska Initiative 416 was a 2000 ballot initiative that amended the Nebraska Constitution to make it unconstitutional for the state to recognize or perform same-sex marriage or civil unions. The referendum was approved on November 7, 2000, by 70% of the voters.[1] The initiative has since been struck down in federal court and same-sex marriage is now legally recognised in the state of Nebraska.

Text of amendment[edit]

The text of the amendment states:

Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in Nebraska. The uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship shall not be valid or recognized in Nebraska.[2]

Those voting yes were voting in favour of the amendment and those voting no were voting against the amendment.


Initiative 416[3]
Choice Votes  %
Referendum passed Yes 477,571 70.10
No 203,667 29.90
Valid votes 681,231 100
Total votes 681,231 100.00


Several gay and lesbian advocacy organizations challenged this measure in Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning. In 2005, Judge Joseph F. Bataillon of the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska ruled that the measure violated the United States Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and free speech, as well as its prohibition on bills of attainder. In 2006, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit overturned Judge Bataillon and ruled that "laws limiting the state-recognized institution of marriage to heterosexual couples ... do not violate the Constitution of the United States."

In 2015, in the matter of Waters v. Ricketts, Judge Batallion of the District Court again ruled that the measure violated the U.S. Constitution, on equal protection and due process grounds. Though the state appealed and successfully sought a stay of the ruling to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the United States Supreme Court struck down same-sex marriage bans nationwide on identical grounds in the matter of Obergefell v. Hodges. Consequently, the Eighth Circuit Court lifted the stay of Judge Batallion's ruling and Initiative 416 was formally struck down, with Nebraska officials and agencies formally enjoined from enforcing the ban on same-sex marriage in the state.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Statewide General Election 2000 Results, Constitutional Amendments and Initiative Measures, Nebraska Secretary of State, p. 21-22. Accessed 17 December 2006.
  2. ^ Nebraska State Constitution, Article I, section 29, Nebraska Legislative Documents Legislature. Accessed 21 July 2014.
  3. ^ "2000 Initiative General Election Results (Nebraska)". US Election Atlas.