Federal judge upholds Louisiana ban on marriage equality

The Wisconsin Gazette

A federal district judge has upheld Louisiana’s ban on marriage equality.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in the Fifth Circuit is the first to uphold a ban against same-sex marriage since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor last summer. The ruling broke a streak of 21 consecutive federal court rulings for equality.

“Today a federal district court put up a roadblock on a path constructed by 21 federal court rulings over the last year — a path that inevitably leads to nationwide marriage equality,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign.

The ruling will be challenged at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, according to Dalton Courson, an attorney for the plaintiffs..

“We always anticipated it would be a difficult fight to have same-sex marriages recognized in Louisiana,” he said. “We plan to carefully present our case to the appellate court. The Constitution demands equal protection to all citizens.”

Courson continued, “We’re disappointed. We have roughly 20 decisions on our side of this issue from courts across the nation. It is time for marriage equality, even in the deep South.”

At the right-wing National Organization for Marriage, president Brian S. Brown said, “This decision by Judge Feldman in Louisiana is a great win for the cause of marriage, coming as it does on the heels of other pro-marriage court victories, that puts the lie to the claim that it is inevitable the US Supreme Court will redefine marriage. To the contrary, we believe they will leave this issue with the states.”

Feldman made his ruling in Robicheaux v. Caldwell, a case involving same-sex couples who either want to marry in the state or have their out-of-state marriages recognized.

Feldman said the marriage issue should be decided “through democratic consensus.”

He wrote that “it is not for this Court to resolve the wisdom of same-sex marriage.”

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to take up marriage equality sometime in the next year – in one or more cases. Already the high court has been asked to hear three cases.

“We firmly believe that justice will ultimately be done,” Warbelow said.

Same-sex couples can marry in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

Editor’s note: This story will be updated.