Today our legal team will advocate in federal court on behalf of our client couples for the Freedom to Marry in Nebraska. This is a deeply meaningful day for me, for our clients, and for my firm family. I repost here the blog I wrote when we filed the lawsuit explaining why this work expands my heart. As one person said to me after reading this blog originally “This is the kind of case that we go to law school for.” Yes. It is.
On Monday, November 17, 2014, our firm, along with the ACLU, filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking full marriage equality for all Nebraskans. In doing so, I hope to be a part of creating, for Nebraska, a legacy of fairness and a culture that supports loving and committed couples.
Nebraska has a complex history with regard to the marriage for same-sex couples. Nebraska was one of the first states in 2003 to successfully challenge the Defense of Marriage Act at the trial level. When the 8th circuit court did not agree and DOMA was upheld for our state, Nebraska had to then be patient and wait for new legal precedent from the United States Supreme Court. That came in 2013 with the United States Supreme Court Windsor ruling. Our legal landscape has now changed and Nebraska is again positioned to seek the ability for same-sex couples to join the institution of marriage.
So why us? Why is a divorce firm volunteering their time and energy to support same-sex couples to marry or to allow their marriages from other states to be recognized in Nebraska? It is for the very reason that I am a divorce lawyer. I have devoted my career to doing divorce because I fully believe in and support happy, healthy, committed marriages. I believe in deep and meaningful partnerships. I serve as a divorce lawyer to help spouses leave their marriage when that marriage can no longer be even remotely described as the things I just mentioned.
Every day I help my clients look and tell the truth about the state of their marriages, their needs and what they see about the future. Some move toward and through divorce, some seek out further support for their marriage and reconcile, and some stay stuck, unsure of what to do. Some send me notes a year or so after the completion of their divorce wherein they describe their new happiness or even a new love.
Because of the work I do, I am honestly inspired when in the presence of couples who can make it work. And not only make it work, but who truly support each other in times of distress, who make sacrifices to be together, and who are loving and committed to each other. It makes no difference to me if they are opposite or same sex. Marriage is hard work and we need as many role models as we can get. I believe in a culture that supports marriage. I believe in a culture that supports fairness.
What I know from working with our plaintiff couples in the lawsuit is that these couples have faced commitment on a level that most legally married couples in Nebraska have not had to face. The legally married couples in Nebraska have not had to risk losing a job for the sake of their marriage. They have not had to live with their parental rights in jeopardy. They have not had to face being shunned by their families. They have not had to face discrimination in inheritance.
And what I also observe is the sameness. When hearing the couples talk about what their marriage (validated in another state) means for them, I hear sameness. I see the sameness. Regardless of same sex, I hear same marriage, same problems, same family, same love.