Today, NFA’s Policy Director Nate Grasz testified before the Judiciary Committee on Legislative Bill 785. If passed, the bill would remove ‘husband and wife’ from state statute regarding the solemnization of marriages.
During the hearing, NFA submitted the signatures of more than 70 pastors and ministry leaders who are concerned about removing these words from Nebraska’s law. Read his testimony below, or watch his testimony here.
LB 785 Committee Hearing
Nate Grasz, Policy Director
We have a number of questions and concerns with this bill that are shared widely by faith leaders all across Nebraska. In addition to my testimony today, I am submitting for the record a letter with the names of more than 70 pastors, clergy and ministry leaders representing thousands of Nebraskans from diverse congregations and denominations, who are all respectfully asking that this committee not remove the specific reference to “husband and wife” from state statute regarding the solemnization of marriage as LB785 would do.
These faith leaders are good, sincere Nebraskans who care for and serve our communities stretching from Omaha, Lincoln, Crete, and Grand Island, to Cozad, North Platte, Red Cloud and Chadron.
We believe it is unnecessary to remove “husband and wife” from Nebraska Revised Statute section 42-109 when the intent of this bill could be achieved by adding neutral references to marriage, such as spouses or partner, without removing the specific reference to husband and wife.
We question whether the change this bill makes would leave room for the ministers, pastors, and couples who so desire, to use language consistent with their sincerely held beliefs in solemnizing a marriage. Due to the strict language in section 42-109 and the opinion of our legal counsel, we do not believe this would be the case.
Although we still disagree on this question, we recognize that this is a sensitive issue and have sincerely appreciated the open conversation and civil dialogue we were able to have with Senator Vargas and his staff.
We are not testifying in opposition out of a desire to prevent anyone from using different language in solemnizing their marriage.
But given the strict mandatory language in section 42-109 and the removal of husband and wife under this bill, we simply want to ensure that the state is respecting the rights of those wanting to be married specifically as husband and wife by their pastor, and not creating ambiguity or requiring by law all pastors, ministers and Nebraskans to use different terminology in order to legally solemnize a marriage.