Same-sex couples can finally foster children in Nebraska
Same-sex couples in Nebraska can officially foster children after an appeal was rejected by the state’s Supreme court.
In their ruling, the judges said stopping LGBT people from taking care of children was “legally indistinguishable from a sign reading ‘Whites Only’ on the hiring-office door.”
A ban had been in place on same-sex couples and individuals becoming foster parents since 1995.
ACLU Nebraska executive director Danielle Conrad hailed the decision as “a victory for children and LGBT Nebraskans.
“There are tens of thousands of LGBT people who call the Cornhusker State home and thousands of Nebraska children in need of a foster care placement,” she added.
Same-sex couples had been prevented and dissuaded from applying to be foster parents by state employees who cited a 22-year-old memo written by the then-director of the department.
“It is my decision that effective immediately, it is the policy of the Department of Social Service that children will not be placed in the homes of persons who identify themselves as homosexuals,” the memo read.
“This policy also applies to the area of foster home licensure in that, effective immediately, no foster home license shall be issued to persons who identify themselves as homosexual.”
The department was ordered to allow LGBT people to become foster parents in 2015 but the state appealed the decision, saying in court it wanted children to be in the most “family-like setting”.
— ACLU of Nebraska (@ACLUofNE) April 7, 2017
Explaining its decision, the Nebraska Supreme Court wrote that the ruling ended “the humiliation of rejection and the stigmatic harm of unequal treatment.”
The judges added that discrimination had been “inherent” in the ban.
Last year, a federal judge ruled that Mississippi’s ban on same-sex couples adopting children was unconstitutional.
The ruling came just weeks after the Supreme Court reversed a ruling in Alabama that refused to recognise an out-of-state same-sex couple’s adoption.
This made gay adoption legal in all 50 states.
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The news comes less than a week after legislators in the state began debating a bill which would extend discrimination protections to LGBT people.
Also last week, a federal appeals court in the US ruled that lesbian, gay and bisexual employees were protected against discrimination.
The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act already protects LGBT employees from being discriminated against.
As the ruling will not be appealed to the Supreme Court, it takes effect in three states.
The day after the 7th Circuit ruled, another federal judge ruled in favour of a lesbian couple who were discriminated against by a landlord.