March 2, 2015

Gov. Ricketts, AG Peterson defend Nebraska definition of marriage (AUDIO)

Attorney General Doug Peterson answers questions along with Gov. Pete Ricketts during Capitol news conference

Attorney General Doug Peterson answers questions along with Gov. Pete Ricketts during Capitol news conference

Governor Pete Ricketts stands by his support of Nebraska’s definition of marriage, despite a federal judge’s ruling overturning it.

Attorney General Doug Peterson has appealed the ruling to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Federal judge Joseph Bataillon has struck down the state ban on same-sex marriage, though he made his ruling effective a week from today, giving the state time to appeal the decision.

Ricketts and Peterson held a joint news conference at the governor’s Capitol office today.

Ricketts said if the state definition of marriage is to be changed, it should be changed by the voters.

“And while I know this is a difficult issue for many families, including my own, I don’t believe that this is an issue that should be decided by the preferences of one judge; that this is an issue for the people of Nebraska and that I will work with the Attorney General to continue to uphold the constitution,” Ricketts told reporters.

The Attorney General’s office filed its appeal immediately after Bataillon issued his ruling, hoping for an outcome similar to 2006. That year, Bataillon issued a similar ruling against the constitutional amendment approved by Nebraska voters in 2000. The appellate court overturned Bataillon and let the law stand.

Peterson said he expects the United States Supreme Court to rule later this year on whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, a point the judge did not address.

“I think it’s important to note in Judge Batallion’s opinion, he chose not to make a decision as to whether or not marriage between a same-sex couple was a fundamental right and I think that’s the key legal issue,” Peterson stated.

Peterson said his office has asked the 8th Circuit to prevent the Bataillon ruling from going into effect until it decides the issue.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court will go a long way toward clarifying the issue this summer.

“Our position is that under good, appropriate constitutional analysis and good constitutional law for this issue it is to be decided by the states and for the states to decide it they need to go through the very process that we went through in this state back in 2000 where 70% of Nebraskans found that marriage should be constitutionally determined to be that just between a man and a woman,” Peterson said.

AUDIO:  Gov. Peter Ricketts and Attorney General Doug Peterson react to ruling on Nebraska definition of marriage. [4 min.]

ACLU celebrates same-sex marriage ruling

thB9NB8EE5The Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says a federal judge’s ruling striking down a ban on same-sex marriage should be a cause of celebration.

“Today is a day for celebration, because the love and commitment our clients share will finally be entitled to the equality and respect they deserve in the eyes of the law,” Nebraska ACLU Executive Director Danielle Conrad tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.

The ACLU represented seven same-sex couples which challenged the state definition of marriage constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2000. The judge sided with the couples and struck down the state law.

Conrad says the ruling is important to a significant population of the state.

“Today, Nebraska’s motto of equality before the law will ring true for gay and lesbian Nebraskans who seek to have their marriages recognized or who seek the freedom to marry right here in our great state,” according to Conrad.

Senior United States District Judge Joseph Bataillon struck down the state ban on same-sex marriage, yet delayed enforcement of his ruling for a week.

That gives the state time to appeal the decision.

Attorney General Doug Peterson is asking the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to keep Bataillon’s ruling from going into effect until it decides the issue. Ultimately, the United States Supreme Court could decide the issue this summer.

Conrad says the ACLU is ready to defend the ruling against the state’s appeal.

In 2006, Bataillon issued a similar ruling against the constitutional amendment approved by Nebraska voters in 2000. The 8th Circuit overturned Bataillon and let the law stand.

Federal judge strikes down Nebraska same-sex marriage ban

GavelA federal judge has struck down Nebraska’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The state attorney general has appealed the ruling.

Federal Judge Joseph Bataillon has struck down the state definition of marriage, but delayed the effect of his ruling until next Monday at 8am, presumably to give the state enough time to appeal the ruling to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Attorney General Doug Peterson has filed an appeal and asked Bataillon to delay any action for at least two weeks.

Seven same-sex couple brought suit against the state, seeking to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. The ACLU of Nebraska argued on behalf of the couples before U.S. District Judge Bataillon during a court hearing in Omaha. The Attorney General’s office defended the state law, placed in the state constitution in 2000 by the voters.

In 2006, Bataillon ruled the state law unconstitutional, but the ruling was overturned on appeal.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld constitutional amendments defining marriage in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee; definitions similar to that in Nebraska. The 5th and 7th Circuits have struck down same-sex marriage bans.

Strategic Air & Space Museum’s largest restoration project to date

The Strategic Air & Space Museum in Ashland is anxious to start their largest restoration project to date and kick off their first permanent indoor walk-through exhibit. Marketing and PR Director Deb Hermann says they will restore an EC-135C “Looking Glass” aircraft.

This aircraft served as the Airborne Command Post and was a Strategic Air Command icon. The aircraft started flying in the early 1960’s during the Cold War and flew 24/7 until 1990 when it landed at Offutt Air Force base in 1990. Crew members included a U-S Air Force general officer, a full battle staff and aircraft mission specialists from flight crew to surgeon. Their job was one of peace but they trained for the event of a threat on national security.

There were twelve “Looking Glass” aircrafts built but this will be the only one on display in the world. The museum intends to restore the aircraft to its 1990 retirement condition and it will become their first permanent indoor walk-through exhibit. It will include other artifacts of the Cold War and the Airborne Command Posts in U-S history and oral histories of pilots and crew members that flew on missions. This is the museum’s largest restoration project to date with an estimated cost of $200,000.

A kick-off event will be held Thursday, March 13th from 4 – 6 pm at the Strategic Air & Space Museum. They will showcase restoration and exhibit plans that include volunteer and fundraising needs and a timeline of activities.

Lincoln legislator targets school budget issue as “priority” bill

Sen. Roy Baker

Sen. Roy Baker

State Senator Roy Baker of Lincoln is apparently the first legislator to name his priority bill for this 90-day session.

Senator Baker, who represents southern Lancaster County and all of Gage County, has chosen LB 431, which would adjust the formal bid process threshold school districts face on construction or repair projects. The current level at which a formal bid process must be used is $40,000.

“That $40,000 figure was set in 1979,” Baker says. “(The bill) would bring it up to $100,000. The exact translation from 1979 is more like $130,000, so it doesn’t even bring it up to the level of the purchasing power of 1979.”

Baker says the legislation has a built-in measure that would call for a reset every five years to boost the figure alloting for the cost of living.

Each state senator is allowed to designate one bill they sponsor as their priority, or can name another senator’s measure as a priority bill.

Baker said naming LB 431 as his priority early, should increase chances of moving quickly toward passage. The bill has been advanced from committee to the first round of floor debate.

By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice