Nebraska Gun Debate May Have Lead to Marriage Equality


EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday February 4, 2015

Who loves guns more than they hate gay rights? Nebraska lawmakers.

A debate was triggered in the Nebraska Legislature Tuesday over the right for military spouses to carry handguns.

Democratic Underground notes that the current law requires a 180-day period to establish residency before applying for a concealed weapon permit. A bill advanced from the first round of debate that would waive the wait period for military spouses.

Paul Schumacher, the Senator from Columbus, brought up the issue of whether the bill would allow same-sex spouses to obtain gun permits without the waiting period given Nebraska's constitutional ban on gay marriage.

"Is not the Second Amendment sex blind? Color blind?" Schumacher said. "What great evil would come from saying a partner of somebody in the military ... is entitled to exercise their Second Amendment rights to carry a concealed weapon in this state?"

Although Nebraska has had a state constitutional amendment on the books banning gay marriage since 2000, same-sex spouses have had full benefits from the Department of the Defense since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.

A quandary.

Schumacher proposed an amendment to the bill to include anyone receiving the federal benefits of a military spouse.

The amendment was adopted by a vote of 38-0.

"I think we just recognized gay marriage," Sen. John Murante said after the vote. "We are now using the federal government's standard for who receives marriage benefits."

Nebraska's ban on same-sex marriage is currently being challenged in a lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court.