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Making The Complex Understandable

Louisiana same-sex couples use Virginia ruling in their case

The July 28 federal appeals court ruling that struck down Virginia's same-sex marriage ban has given ammunition to those seeking to do the same in Louisiana. Attorneys for the seven couples who are challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage and asking that the state recognize same-sex marriages from other states filed a short notice with the U.S. district court judge in New Orleans who is hearing their case. That notice included a copy of the opinion rendered by the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in the Virginia case.

According to a July 17 article on Nola.com, the Louisiana plaintiffs include three couples seeking the right to marry and four couples who were legally married in other states who now live in Louisiana. The case deals with two issues: 1) whether the 2004 amendment to the state constitution that bans gay marriage is unconstitutional, and 2) whether it is a violation of the 1st Amendment for couples legally married in another state to have to file their Louisiana state tax returns as single people.

In the Virginia case, the state attorney general announced that he would not oppose the court ruling. He said, "inevitably no effort to restrict the rights or limit the opportunities of our fellow Americans has ever succeeded in the long term."

According to the July 17 Nola.com article, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has a different view of the issue. Attorneys for the state are arguing against the plaintiffs' case, saying that neither of the constitutional issues they raise is valid.

Whichever side wins, the case will probably be appealed. It appears increasingly likely that as these state battles continue in the South and other states with same-sex marriage bans, the issue will once again end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. After the Virginia decision, North Carolina's attorney general said that he would no longer continue with a "vigorous" defense of his state's marriage laws and let the Supreme Court decide. He said, "It's time to stop making arguments we will lose and instead move forward."

If married same-sex couples have their unions recognized in Louisiana and if same-sex marriage is legalized in our state, many gay couples will be dealing with the same types of family law issues as heterosexual couples. These include prenuptial agreements, adoption and divorce. However, they have some legal hurdles to overcome before they get to that point.

Source: Nola.com, "Lawyers in Louisiana gay marriage lawsuit cite favorable ruling in Virginia case" Andy Grimm, The Times-Picayune, Jul. 29, 2014

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