Inmate, Transgender Partner Lose Second Suit Challenging Nebraska Gay Marriage Ban
LINCOLN - A Nebraska prison inmate and his transgender partner have lost another round in their legal fight to be able to visit each other and get married.
The Lincoln Journal Star reports a federal judge rejected the lawsuit brought by prisoner Harold Wilson and his partner, Gracy Sedlak, challenging a Nebraska constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Their state lawsuit that raised the same claims was thrown out because they failed to pay an $82 court fee.
Sedlak is a former inmate who previously identified as a man and used the name John Jirovsky. Wilson, 57, is serving a 56- to 170-year prison sentence on attempted murder, kidnapping and sexual assault charges from Dawson County. He went to prison in 1986.
Sedlak, 27, can't visit Wilson now because of a Nebraska Department of Correctional Services rule that puts a three-year waiting period on former inmates visiting prisons. Sedlak was released from prison in 2011.
The lawsuit aimed to overturn the state constitutional amendment that Nebraska voters approved in 2000. Wilson and Sedlak argued that their civil rights are being violated because they can't marry whom they want.
Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf said a previous ruling by the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld Nebraska's marriage amendment, so the lawsuit couldn't proceed.
That earlier appellate ruling said Nebraska had legitimate reasons for using a traditional definition of marriage because the state wanted to encourage heterosexual couples to bear and raise children in committed marriages.