One Nebraska gubernatorial candidate is making a campaign issue out of what to do with same-sex couples who get legally married in other states.
The Lincoln Journal-Star reports that candidate Beau McCoy is pressuring his GOP primary opponents to declare they won't recognize gay and lesbian couples married in other states, including neighboring Iowa.
"Make no mistake, every time same-sex couples get the same recognition as a married couple, the Nebraska Constitution and the will of Nebraskans gets undermined," he said, according to the Journal-Star. Nebraska voted to ban same-sex marriage via an amendment to the state constitution in 2000.
McCoy, who is an Omaha state senator, praised incumbent Republican governor, Dave Heineman, for denying health benefits to the partners of employees who work for the state. And he's pledging to do the same if elected governor.
Robin Maril, with the Human Rights Campaign, testified in Nebraska in November during a hearing about the state's response to the fall of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act due to the Supreme Court's ruling in U.S. v Windsor. Maril warned of the real financial consequences for same-sex couples should their marriages continue to be ignored by the state.
From a statement Maril wrote for the HRC after the hearing:
"Although Nebraska law requires taxpayers to use their federal status to file state income tax, the Nebraska Department of Revenue published special guidance in October requiring same-sex married couples to file as “single” as if they were unmarried. This conflict places an additional burden on same-sex married couples who will not only forfeit state marriage benefits, but will often pay additional costs in order to comply with complex state requirements.
"Same-sex couples living in Nebraska will face even harsher effects of Nebraska’s non-recognition law when it comes to the federal safety net programs, like Social Security, that look to the laws of the state where the couple lives to determine eligibility. Social Security currently provides critical benefits for families following the death or disability of a spouse. For many, this monthly payment is a lifeline and can provide spousal benefits of up to $20,000 per year. However, despite lifetime contribution to the system, surviving same-sex spouses in Nebraska will be considered ineligible to receive benefits because they are not considered “married” by their home state."