On December 2, 2014, seven same-sex couples seeking to marry or have their out-of-state marriage recognized in Nebraska filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska. The plaintiffs, represented by lawyers from the ACLU and a private firm, filed the suit against the state of Nebraska seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that Nebraska's exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and refusal to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples from other jurisdictions under Nebraska's "Defense of Marriage" Constitutional Amendment violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The plaintiffs alleged the injuries they had suffered as a result of Nebraska's exclusion included family instability (including obstacles to adoption), denial of tax and other benefits, psychological harm, and a loss of dignity.
On March 2, 2015, the District Court (Judge Joseph E. Bataillon) granted the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, to take effect on March 9, 2015. Waters v. Ricketts, 48 F.Supp.3d 1271 (D. Neb. 2015). The injunction ordered all relevant state officials to treat same-sex couples the same as different-sex couples in the context of processing a marriage license or determining the rights, protections, obligations, or benefits of marriage.
The same day, the defendants filed an interlocutory appeal regarding the preliminary injunction. On March 6, 2015, the Eighth Circuit granted defendants' Emergency Motion for Stay Pending Appeal and scheduled oral argument.
On April 29, 2015, the Eighth Circuit ordered on its own motion that oral argument and any further consideration of the cases be deferred pending the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. Obergefell, 135 S.Ct. 2584 (2015). (Clearinghouse code PB-OH-0003
On June 30, 2015, the Eighth Circuit vacated its order staying the District Court's preliminary injunction.
On June 13, 2015, the plaintiffs moved for summary judgment.
On August 11, 2015, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the preliminary injunction, held Nebraska's constitutional provision to be unconstitutional, and remanded the case for entry of final judgment on the merits in favor of the plaintiffs. Waters v. Ricketts, 798 F.3d 682 (8th Cir. 2015).
On September 24, 2015, plaintiffs filed supplemental materials alleging further injuries related to a defendant's actions under state birth certificate issuance statutes.
On February 4, 2016, Judge Bataillon granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment and issued a permanent injunction striking down Nebraska’s ban on gay marriage. Waters v. Ricketts, 159 F.Supp.3d 992 (D. Neb. 2016). The injunction ordered state officials to treat same-sex couples the same as different-sex couples in the context of processing marriage certificates or determining rights, protections, obligations or benefits of marriage.
On June 14, 2016, Judge Bataillon closed this case, but retains jurisdiction to enforce its injunction for a period of at least 3 years. Sarah Precup - 10/20/2015
Susie Choi - 03/14/2017