'I think we just recognized gay marriage,' lawmaker says after amendment to gun permit bill

Posted: February 3, 2015 at 6:53 pm

LINCOLN Granting military spouses the right to carry concealed handguns in Nebraska triggered a debate over gay marriage Tuesday in the Nebraska Legislature.

Current law allows nonresident military members to apply for concealed gun permits without having to first live in Nebraska for 180 days to establish residency. A bill advanced from the first round of debate on a 37-4 vote would waive the residency period for military spouses who want to apply for gun permits.

Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus, however, questioned whether the bill would allow same-sex spouses to obtain gun permits given Nebraskas Constitutional ban on gay marriage. He proposed an amendment so the gun privilege would apply to anyone receiving the federal benefits of a military spouse.

The Department of Defense extended benefits to same-sex spouses in 2013 following a U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

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?

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

Sen. John Murante of Gretna, who did not vote for or against the bill, expressed concern that the Schumacher amendment could be used to challenge Nebraskas ban on same-sex marriage.

I think we just recognized gay marriage, he said moments after the vote. We are now using the federal governments standard for who receives marriage benefits.

Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins, who sponsored the measure, said he does not think the amendment language will open up the states marriage law to attack. The state Constitution definitively says gay marriage is not recognized within Nebraskas borders, he added.

The forms that a gun permit applicant fill out ask nothing about the gender of an applicants spouse, Bloomfield said.

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'I think we just recognized gay marriage,' lawmaker says after amendment to gun permit bill

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