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Nichols v. Nichols Challenges Nebraska's Marriage Law

Megan Mikolajczyk of Domina Law Group is the attorney for Bonnie Nichols, a woman who is a Nebraska resident, legally married in Iowa, who now wishes to obtain a legal divorce in Nebraska. 14 years ago, Nebraska voters approved of limiting legal marriage to one man and one woman. Since same-sex marriage is not recognized by the Nebraska constitution, Nichols has not been able to obtain a divorce. This case, Nichols v. Nichols, has been sent to the Nebraska Supreme Court. It is the first challenge to Nebraska's same-sex marriage law since the law was approved 14 years ago.

According to Mikolajczyk, "The state of Nebraska tried to make the relationship [same-sex marriage] unavailable. Instead, they've made a relationship they don't want in this state permanent. I don't think that was their intended end result."

Last August, Nebraska Judge Stephanie Stacy ruled against allowing same-sex divorce, saying that doing so would acknowledge the legitimacy of the same-sex marriage, which the Nebraska constitution does not recognize.

Nichols is now petitioning with the Nebraska Supreme Court to reverse Judge Stacy's ruling, saying that although the state's marriage law does not recognize same-sex marriages, it does not specifically ban dissolution of a same-sex marriages.

Within the last year, eight federal courts ruled to overturn bans on same-sex marriage.

These types of cases are referred to as "a case of first impression." Mikolajczyk's brief asserts three major arguments in support of Nichols' request for same-sex divorce:

  1. By law, a legitimate marriage license from one state must be honored by another, regardless of sex.
  2. By disallowing same-sex divorce in this case, Nebraska is violating the couples' constitutional right to not associate with whomever they choose to live.
  3. The Constitution of the United States guarantees its citizens equal protection. By Nebraska limiting marriage to one man and one woman, Mikolajczyk argues that the state is in violation of the Constitution.

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