Federal judge rejects state's request, won't delay suit challenging Nebraska gay marriage ban

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OMAHA, Nebraska — A federal judge won't delay a lawsuit challenging Nebraska's gay marriage ban while the U.S. Supreme Court is considering the issue for the country.

District Judge Joseph Bataillon in Omaha declined a request from the Nebraska attorney general's office for the delay.

"Let it suffice to say that the state defendants have not made a sufficient showing that a delay in the outcome is necessary," Bataillon said in his ruling released Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office declined to comment. A brief supporting the state's motion pointed to a North Dakota federal judge's decision to do the same thing. The Nebraska attorney who prepared the motion had said he'd appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals if the state were to fail in its effort to delay the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed in November by seven same-sex couples seeking to have their marriages recognized in Nebraska despite the state's ban passed by voters in 2000. The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska has asked for an injunction that would require the state to recognize same-sex marriages immediately while the lawsuit proceeds. Bataillon has set a Feb. 19 hearing on that request.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Jan. 17 that it would decide whether same-sex couples have a right to marry everywhere in America under the Constitution. The cases will be argued in April, and a decision is expected by late June.

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