La. Clerk of Court's Office: same-sex marriage licenses will not be issued immediately

La. Clerk of Court's Office will not be immediately issuing same-sex marriage licenses

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The clerks of court in Louisiana will not be issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples until all "legal necessities are in place."

The East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court's office said its attorneys and the legal counsel of the Louisiana Clerks of Court Association is advising it and clerks offices across the state on how to proceed.

There is a 25-day rehearing period for Supreme Court decisions.

A statement from the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court's Office says:

On advice of our legal counsel and the legal counsel of the Louisiana Clerks of Court Association, our statewide group, the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court's Office will not be issuing same-sex marriage licenses until the period for Supreme Court rehearing has elapsed and all other legal necessities are in place.

Clerk of Court Doug Welborn said his team is working with the Louisiana Vital Records Office to update all forms and procedures for the issuance of same-sex licenses. The statement is being provided at every clerk's office in the state.

He added his office intends to follow the letter of the law to the best of its abilities and will provide additional updates when they become available.

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, who objected to the high court's decision, issued the following statement [Friday] in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges:

"This Supreme Court decision overturns the will of the people of Louisiana, and it takes away a right that should have been left to the states. Louisiana voters decided overwhelmingly to place in our constitution an amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. I fought to uphold Louisiana's definition of traditional marriage, and I was the first attorney general in the nation to be successful at the federal court level.

In addition, the Attorney General's Office said that it has found nothing in [Friday's] decision that makes the Court's order effective immediately. Therefore, there is not yet a legal requirement for officials to issue marriage licenses or perform marriages for same-sex couples in Louisiana. The Attorney General's Office will be watching for the Court to issue a mandate or order making [Friday's] decision final and effective and will issue a statement when that occurs.

Louisiana gay rights activists celebrated the news, in spite of the stall at the clerk offices.

"We hope this will not be a delay tactic on their part and that they're just being cautious," said Kayla Mulford President of the Baton Rouge-based gay rights group Capital City Alliance.

She says she is excited by Friday's ruling and thinks it is one for the history books.

"I think that we can't let a small delay keep us from celebrating a huge moment for the LGBT community, one that a lot of people, I don't think, believed would come so soon," Mulford said.

Mulford, who is gay and has been with her partner for several years, said she is thrilled that she now will have the opportunity to marry her partner in her home state.

Meanwhile, Louisiana State Representative Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, said the Supreme Court's decision poses a threat to those who want to uphold marriage as between a man and a woman.

Johnson, who authored the controversial religious freedom bill that was defeated late in this year's legislative session, said he plans to introduce similar legislation next year. He said he thinks the Supreme Court's decision may inspire more legislators to reconsider his proposal from last year.

"Regardless of what the Supreme Court says, our moral and religious teachings tell us something different," he said. "So there's got to be an accommodation in the law to protect that right of conscious."

He says any new legislation he introduces will work to protect business owners and individuals who do not want to serve gay couples for moral reasons.

"We understand now that the threat is very real, and religious liberty needs to be protected," he said.

Even for those celebrating Friday, the battle is not over.

"We still do have work to do after marriage," said Mulford.

She says her group plans to introduce anti-bullying campaigns and fight for employment and housing protections to help preserve the rights of the LGBT community.

Robert Muench, Bishop of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, released a statement Friday night regarding the decision:

Today's United States Supreme Court's decision regarding Obergefell v. Hodges, ruling against the scripture-based and time-honored definition of marriage, is a cause for both sadness and concern. By natural law, the Bible, historical tradition and common usage, the term “marriage” has referred to a union of one man and one woman. As Archbishop Kurtz, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated today: “Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable.” (Statement of June 26, 2015)

This Catholic belief regarding marriage stands alongside the universal command of Jesus to love neighbor as a sign of our loving God (1 John 4:20). Seeing God as the author of all creation, we are called to respect all humans, honoring their divine-given dignity and recognizing their uniqueness.

As at all times and in all circumstances we submit this matter to prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:13), entrusting ourselves to the Ultimate Supreme Authority (Exodus 20:2).

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