Issues surrounding gay marriage far from settled

Issues surrounding gay marriage far from settled

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It's just a few pages and couple of signatures, but it means everything to one Louisiana couple who waited nearly two years for that moment.

"Amazing that they let us. We knew we were going to do it, but it's amazing that they did it and said yes," said Amy Scott.

Amy Scott and her fiancé Stephanie Pitre are like a lot of same-sex couples in Louisiana, overwhelmed by the sudden but long anticipated chain of events that allowed them to legally tie the knot in their home state.

However, the historic Supreme Court ruling does not mean the controversy surrounding gay marriage is over or settled. Moving forward Louisiana residents and officials will have to navigate new waters concerning things like income tax returns and inheritance.

"You'll have questions of whether the state can continue to deny same gender couples the freedom to adopt children that they jointly raise and that both partners consider their child," said LSU Law Professor Paul Baier. 

Baier is handling a case dealing with same-sex couples and adoption. It is currently pending before the Louisiana Supreme Court. 

Meanwhile, Governor Bobby Jindal's office issued a memo to the executive branch emphasizing his earlier executive order that protects government employees who disagree with gay marriage based on religious beliefs. The memo read:

"By way of example, appropriate accommodations may be made for state employees who express a religious objection to involvement in issuance of same-sex marriage licenses, and judges and justices of the peace may not be forced to officiate a same-sex wedding ceremony when other authorized individuals who have no religious objection are available."

Baier, a constitutional law expert, said the ruling will not create a violation of religious liberty and called Jindal's comments in the wake of the ruling "political screaming."

"The court can distinguish between legitimate claims of religious freedom, the sale of a cake for instance, and illegitimate claims," said Baier.

While LGBT supporters say legalizing gay marriage is an enormous step forward, there are still other battles to be fought.

"Right now in the state of Louisiana you can get married, now today, to your partner, your same sex partner, but you can be fired from your job tomorrow unless of course your place of employment has a nondiscrimination policy that includes you," said Colin Miller with Forum for Equality.

Questions on how religious groups choose to handle gay marriage are yet to be answered. However, Pitre said she only needs to know one thing.

"Whether anyone agrees with us being married. That's their own belief. That's ok with me," said Pitre. "I know I'm going to marry her because that's what I believe. That's my human right."
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