Same Sex Marriage Ban Upheld

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Same Sex Marriage & Divorce on Wednesday, September 10, 2014.

Favorable decisions in most courts over same sex divorce and marriage laws made you think all courts ruled the same way. A federal court in Louisiana shows that’s not true.

This lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage and its refusal to recognize same-sex marriages permitted in other states and follows other cases I’ve written about.

Jonathan Robicheaux married his same-sex partner in Iowa, but lives in Orleans Parish, Louisiana; he alleged that Louisiana’s defense of marriage amendment to the state constitution violated his federal constitutional rights.

As the New York Times reports, Judge Martin Feldman, of the U.S. District Court for the Easter District of Louisiana in New Orleans wrote the order that the regulation of marriage was left up to the states and the democratic process; that no fundamental right was being violated by the ban; and that Louisiana had a “legitimate interest … whether obsolete in the opinion of some, or not, in the opinion of others … in linking children to an intact family formed by their two biological parents.”

Judge Feldman’s ruling was the first to uphold a state ban on same-sex marriages since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year in the Windsor case.

Gay-marriage supporters had won more than 20 consecutive rulings overturning bans in other states. They said they would take the Louisiana case to the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which already has before it an appeal by the state of Texas of another federal judge’s ruling that struck down that state’s gay marriage ban.

While the Windsor decision found that the federal same-sex marriage ban was discriminatory, it left a tension between the constitutional rights of same-sex couples and the authority of states to regulate marriage.

Same-sex marriage is currently allowed in 19 states and the District of Columbia, as a result of court decisions, legislative action or referendums. In some other states, courts have struck down bans, but those decisions have been stayed pending appeal.

An appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth is assured. The Fifth Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Florida used to be in the Fifth Circuit, But, in 1981 Florida was moved into the newly created Eleventh Circuit.

The New York Times article is here.