Published On: Thu, May 29th, 2014

Traditional marriage supporters rally behind Nebraska court refusal not to grant ‘gay divorce’

PRESS RELEASE: Yesterday, the Nebraska Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Nichols v. Nichols, a same-sex divorce appeal that challenges Nebraska’s marriage law. Attorney Martin Cannon of the Thomas More Society-Omaha branch, filed anamicus brief earlier this month in support of Nebraska’s Constitution. In 2000, Nebraska citizens voted with a 70-30 margin, to amend the Constitution to reserve marriage to unions between a man and a woman.

Nichols v. Nichols may determine whether Nebraska courts can grant divorce or dissolution in a same-sex marriage entered into in another state. Bonnie Nichols and her same-sex partner, Margie Nichols, residents of Nebraska, were married in Iowa in 2009, several months after that state legalized same-sex marriage.  Bonnie Nichols filed for a divorce in Nebraska in 2012. Last year, District Court Judge Stephanie Stacy turned down the request for divorce, because a divorce cannot be granted without recognizing the marriage itself, something Nebraska’s Constitution prohibits.

“The trial court’s refusal to grant the divorce in Nichols v. Nichols is correct.  Any other ruling would ignore the Nebraska Constitution and trample the people’s will. The ruling is also consistent with the U.S. Constitution and federal case law, which have reserved the definition of marriage to the states,” said Cannon. “Nebraska’s marriage amendment was upheld in 2006 by the federal Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. We urge the Supreme Court of Nebraska to affirm the trial court’s ruling.”

The arguments laid out in the Thomas More Society amicus brief include the following:

  1. Granting the divorce would require the Nebraska court to recognize the Iowa same-sex marriage, in violation of Nebraska’s constitutional amendment.
  1. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in United States vs. Windsor does not require rejection of Nebraska’s marriage amendment. The Windsor court rejected only one section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) because it intruded on the right of the states to define marriage. It left standing the DOMA provision that preserves the right of any state to decline recognition of same sex marriages from other states.
  1. Nebraska’s marriage amendment is constitutional. It has been challenged on constitutional grounds and sustained by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. That ruling remains good law.

Read the Thomas More Society Omaha’s amicus brief here:


Read the Eighth Circuit Court’s ruling here: http://d1vmz9r13e2j4x.cloudfront.net/NET/misc/40163854.pdf

About the Thomas More Society

Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm that exists to restore respect in law for life, marriage, and religious liberty. Headquartered in Chicago, the Society fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro-bono professional legal services from local trial courts all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The Thomas More Society Omaha branch opened in September 2012. For more information, visit www.thomasmoresociety.org.

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