Louisiana ban on same sex marriages upheld in federal court
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WAFB) - After a cascade of federal courts across the country striking down same sex marriage bans, Federal Judge Martin Feldman made a different stand from his New Orleans courtroom, upholding Louisiana's ban on gay marriage and determining that the state does not have to recognize same sex marriages legally obtained in other states.
"He wanted, I think, to stop it because he has anticipation that the Supreme Court will stop it,” said LSU Law professor Paul Baier.
Both praises for the ruling and critiques rolled in after it was handed down just before noon Tuesday.
"This ruling confirms that the people of Louisiana - not the federal courts - have the constitutional right to decide how marriage is defined in this state," said president of the Louisiana Family Forum Gene Mills.
Meanwhile, gay rights advocates express frustration and even anger.
"Folks were hanging on this ruling so that they could get married where their homes are and where their families live are obviously distraught because this is yet another delay," said Matt Patterson of the
Louisiana Equality Forum.
Feldman's ruling expressed the definition of marriage should be left up to the state and the democratic process, not judges.
"There's always contention in how far the court can go in overruling a democratically elected judgments," said Baier.
One of the several arguments against the ban stemmed from a 1967 case in Virginia dealing with the issue of interracial marriage. In Loving v. Virginia the Supreme Court ruled that banning interracial marriage was unconstitutional because it discriminated against race and thus violated the 14th Amendment.
Plaintiffs in this case argued that Louisiana's ban was also unconstitutional because it discriminates against gender, and that the ruling in Loving could be applied here.
However, Feldman rejected that argument, saying that the Louisiana laws do not discriminate against gender. Baier, is a long time constitutional law professor at LSU, disagrees.
"I think he misses the idea that the equal protection clause is not race based. The Supreme Court has said that he equal protection clause gives everyone equality," said Baier.
Other arguments against the ban included violation of the First Amendment and Due Process, all of which Feldmen rejected.
The ruling however, is far from settled. There are plans to appeal and many point to the supreme court for the final decision, something even Feldman acknowledges himself, saying in his ruling "clearly, many other courts will have an opportunity to take up the issue of same-sex marriage… The decision of this court is but on studied decision among many.”
"You settle the mess when you reach the Supreme Court and five judges will vote to sustain or reject these prohibitions," said Baier.
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