Wednesday, December 31, 2014

ACLU Files Gay Marriage Lawsuit in Nebraska... And Fights to Keep One Couple from the Case

Nebraska is one of the remaining marriage inequality states. The state not only refuses to allow same-sex to marry within the state, but it also doesn't recognize marriage performed elsewhere. Additionally, the state's constitution was amended to also ban recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships. According to this poll, 54% of Nebraska residents oppose the legalization of gay marriage with that state, 34% support efforts, and 12% oppose it.

The ACLU of Nebraska is working on a federal lawsuit to overturn Nebraska's ban on same-sex marriage. They are representing 7 gay and lesbian couples ranging in age from 29 to 61. Some have kids. Most were married elsewhere, but their marriage aren't recognized within their own state.

But there is one couple that the ACLU of Nebraska does not want involved with their marriage lawsuit:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska has asked a federal judge not to let a state prison inmate and his transgender fiancĂ©e join their legal challenge to Nebraska's ban on same-sex marriage.

Earlier this month, Harold B. Wilson and Gracy Sedlak, formerly named John Jirovsky, filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Omaha to allow them to intervene in the lawsuit.

On Monday, attorneys for the ACLU filed an objection to the move, arguing that the couple has failed to demonstrate or allege that the seven Nebraska couples already in the suit do not adequately represent their interests...

Wilson and Sedlak, who say they have been denied a marriage license by the Lancaster County Clerk's Office, twice have been unsuccessful in attempts to challenge the ban on their own...

Wilson, 59, is serving 56 to 170 years in prison on attempted murder, kidnapping and sexual assault charges from Dawson County. He went to prison in 1986 and is at Lincoln Correctional Center. Sedlak, 29, was released from prison in 2011 and lives in Lincoln.
Let's face it, every step of this type of lawsuit is about making a good impression. Every time that the ACLU or Lambda Legal or whomever moves ahead with a marriage or marriage-related lawsuit, they are searching for the right couples to make their case. That means, that they spend a lot of time before the lawsuit researching and finding compelling life stories.
I was actually contacted at one point by Lambda Legal way back when they were considering their Varnum case in Iowa.  Ultimately, it wasn't a good time for us to be involved with such a lawsuit because of the boys being in foster care and some other issues. But they were looking for specific family types for that lawsuit.

This isn't unique to LGBT causes. Anti-gay plaintiffs do the same thing.

Sad to say, I can't see this new couple helping this lawsuit. Mostly, I'm thinking about their legal convictions. But their large age difference doesn't help.

Not everyone can be in a marriage equality lawsuit -- but everyone can benefit from a successful marriage equality lawsuit. With that in mind, I applaud the ACLU of Nebraska's decision to limit their lawsuit to their seven original plaintiffs.

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