Attorney general: Put lawsuit challenging gay marriage ban on hold because of Supreme Court

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OMAHA, Nebraska — The Nebraska Attorney General's Office has filed a motion to put a federal lawsuit challenging Nebraska's gay marriage ban on hold pending a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The lawsuit, filed in November by seven same-sex couples seeking to have their marriages recognized in Nebraska. The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska is vowing to fight the effort to stay the case.

The motion, filed Wednesday in Omaha's federal court, comes ahead of Thursday's scheduled arguments in the ACLU's request for a preliminary injunction that would require the state to recognize same-sex marriages while the lawsuit proceeds.

The nation's high court announced last week that it will decide whether same-sex couples have a right to marry everywhere in America under the U.S. Constitution. The cases, which ask to overturn bans in four states, will be argued in April. A decision is expected by late June.

In a brief supporting the state's motion to put the Nebraska lawsuit on hold, Assistant Nebraska Attorney General David Lopez pointed to a North Dakota federal judge's decision this week to do the same thing.

If Nebraska's effort to stay the lawsuit fails in federal district court, Lopez said he will appeal to the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"There should be a high likelihood that the Eighth Circuit would grant a stay of any preliminary injunction in view of the pending Supreme Court decision," Lopez wrote.

Putting the lawsuit on hold would harm Nebraska's gay couples and their families, said Danielle Conrad, executive director of the Nebraska ACLU.

"They are harmed every single day by the discrimination that's enshrined in our state constitution just because of who they are and who they love," Conrad said.

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