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Supreme Court of the United States

Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning

Last Updated: 5/29/2020

Overview

What's at stake

  • Affirming marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
  • Promoting the importance of both mothers and fathers.
  • Protecting the voters’ rights to direct social policy concerning marriage and family.

Summary

By an overwhelming margin, voters adopted a state constitutional amendment stating that “[o]nly marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in Nebraska.” Opponents of the law, including the ACLU, sued the state and argued that the Constitution does not allow a state to only issue marriage licenses to one man and one woman. The Plaintiffs’ efforts initially succeeded when the trial court judge ruled that Nebraska’s marriage amendment violated the Fourteenth Amendment. The state appealed the decision.

Alliance Defending Freedom and its allies came to marriage’s defense in Nebraska by filing a friend of the court brief on behalf of Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that the Constitution does not require states to expand the definition of marriage beyond one man and one woman because the state has a legitimate interest in conferring marriage and its related responsibilities on a man and a woman who as a category can naturally (and many times unintentionally) produce children but not to same-sex couples who cannot. Consequently, the court explained that Nebraska’s marriage laws are based on rational and legitimate state interests and could not simply be attributed to animosity towards same-sex couples. Thus, the court concluded, “there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage.”

Alliance Defending Freedom and its allies defended marriage in Nebraska and continue these efforts throughout the nation.

Our role in this case

Alliance Defending Freedom and its allies defended Nebraska’s marriage amendment by filing a friend of the court brief on behalf of Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council free of charge.

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