For the first time since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act more than a year ago, allowing “state voters and legislatures to define marriage,” a federal court has upheld a state’s ban on gay marriage. That state, as many of our readers know, is Louisiana. Since June 2013, when DOMA was overturned by the Supreme Court, almost 30 state and federal courts have overturned state prohibitions on same-sex marriage.
Ten years ago, Louisiana voters overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. On Sept. 3, Judge Martin Feldman upheld that ban. He also ruled that gay couple’s marriages that were legally performed elsewhere in the U.S. would still not be recognized here.
In his ruling, Judge Feldman said that the state has “a legitimate interest in linking children with intact families formed by their biological parents….” He also talked about “inconvenient questions” raised by the legalization of same-sex marriage, including, “[M]ust the states permit or recognize a marriage between an aunt and niece? Aunt and nephew? Brother/brother? Father and child? May minors marry? Must marriage be limited to only two people? What about a transgender spouse?….”
While the head of Louisiana Family Forum called the decision a victory, groups that support same-sex marriage say they plan to take the case to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The president of Freedom to Marry says that this decision demonstrates why the Supreme Court needs to rule on nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage. He said “couples should not have to fight state by state, case by case, year by year.”
That’s one area in which some on both sides of the issue actually agree. Judge Feldman noted that “many other courts will have an opportunity to take up the issue of same-sex marriage; courts of appeals and, at some point, the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Many same-sex couples living in Louisiana, whether legally married in other states or living as unmarried partners, still have family law issues, some involving their children. Those can be especially complicated when they cannot be legally married or their marriage is not recognized. However, Louisiana family law attorneys can still provide advice and assistance, regardless of our state’s laws on same-sex marriage.
Source: Deseret News, “Federal judge upholds Louisiana’s same-sex marriage ban” Kelsey Dallas, Sep. 04, 2014