Equality, family values clash in Nebraska

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November 12th, 2013

Omaha, NE – The Governor of Hawaii signed a bill into law Wednesday making it the 16th state along with the District of Columbia to legalize same sex marriage.

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Thirty-five states have laws or constitutional amendments making same sex marriage illegal. Nebraska is one of nine states that have anti-marriage constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. It is also one of three states that ban same sex marriage by constitutional amendment only.

Lamar Harker said as an openly gay man he would like to get married someday. (Photo Courtesy KVNO News)

Lamar Harker said as an openly gay man he would like to get married someday. (Photo Courtesy KVNO News)

In June the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a section of the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied benefits like social security and immigration rights to married gay couples in states where it is legal. Currently, same sex couples in 20 states and the District of Columbia can receive some form of state-level protection. There has been significant momentum nationally to legalize marriage since that decision. So far this year, six states have legalized same-sex marriage.

During the Nebraska Legislative hearing on the impact of the DOMA ruling held November 1, Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers said people who are gay did not choose their genetic make-up.

“But I am looking at people who are disrespected, who are humiliated not because of something they did but because of what they are,” Chambers said. “They are excusing those people from the human race; they are making them non-persons, ‘unpeople’ or throw away things, rather than human beings.”

Fellow State Senator Mark Christensen who represents district 44 said he doesn’t agree that genetics play a role in a person being gay or straight.

“I guess I don’t believe it’s in genetics, or we wouldn’t see people who were heterosexual become homosexual and those that were homosexual become heterosexual. We have seen switches both ways, so if its genetics (then) people wouldn’t be flipping and going both ways.”

He said if both a proposed legislation and a possible public vote fails, he could see residents affected by the ban filing a lawsuit against the State of Nebraska. Chambers said he is an ordained minister who would officiate the marriage of a gay couple in Nebraska.

Where states stand on same-sex marriage. (Photo Courtesy KVNO News)

Where states stand on same-sex marriage. (Photo Courtesy KVNO News)

“So if there is any lawyer out there and any couple, we should get together and collaborate and try to force Nebraska to at least have the appearance of being civilized,” Chambers said.

“A society that has evolved beyond the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages and the period of the Inquisition and the burning of so called witches. You are my sounding board but if you are my lawyer just say ‘aye-aye’.”

Dave Bydalek said a union between a man and a woman provides benefits to society, especially to children. He is the policy director of the Nebraska Family Alliance, a faith based organization focusing on strengthening families.

“Protecting marriage is really society’s time-tested way to bless as many children as possible with both a mom and a dad,” Bydalek said. “Neither is a replaceable generic adult. Many men make good dads but no man can ever be a mom. And many women really make good moms but no women can ever be a dad.”

Lamar Harker is a 24 year old gay man living in Omaha. He said discrimination in the city against gay people isn’t something new. Harker said he was attacked and robbed five years ago in downtown Omaha.

“It was just a regular club night,” Harker said.

“We were downtown. We were with a group of friends, and we decided we didn’t want to be with our friends any more. So he and I just decided to take a walk downtown and ended up sitting on the bench.”

Ernie Chambers represents North Omaha's 11th District in the Nebraska Legislature. (Photo Courtesy Nebraska Legislature)

Ernie Chambers represents North Omaha’s 11th District in the Nebraska Legislature. (Photo Courtesy Nebraska Legislature)

“Then a group of guys came by and only thing I heard was ‘oh you are gay?’ Then somebody pulled out a gun, and it was ‘give us your wallets, give us your cellphones.’ I took a beating. I threw my body over him so nothing would happen to him and then after that we were thrown in the river.”

Harker said it was only looked at as a robbery by police and not a hate crime. No charges were filed.

He said he and his boyfriend of two years hope to get married one day but with the constitutional ban in Nebraska, he isn’t losing sleep.

“I desire to, I mean in my future I desire to,” Harker said. “Growing up I definitely thought about it, being older and being married and having the house and the whole American dream. Granted, I can’t get married today, but I don’t lose sleep because I know I will be. I know I’ll be able to someday.”

Nebraskans voted to put a ban on same sex marriage in 2000 by a 2-to-1 margin. Chambers said its time to turn around the “backward” state of Nebraska. He hopes to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot so voters can again have a say.

One Response

  1. Gay marriage will come to Nebraska just as soon as SCOTUS tells Nebraska voters that they have violated the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution. Too bad we can’t inscribe each of their names in granite so they and their progeny will bear the shame of their bigotry for generations!!!

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