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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Federal Judge Upholds Louisiana's Marriage Ban

Freedom to Marry reports:
The ruling today from U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in Louisiana was in Robicheaux et. al v. Caldwell, a federal case consolidated earlier this year with Louisiana Forum for Equality v. Barfield. The cases originally sought respect for marriages legally performed in other states, but in June, Judge Feldman ordered additional briefing in the case about whether same-sex couples should be free to marry within the state of Louisiana.

The plaintiffs and legal team in the case will likely appeal the out-of-step ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which is already slated to consider a case from Texas where a federal judge ruled in favor of marriage.
The 80-year-old Feldman was appointed to the district court bench by Ronald Regan in 1983.  Full text of the ruling is here.

The New Orleans Advocate has a profile and pics of Jon Robicheaux and Derek Penton, the lead couple in this case, here.

Freedom to Marry also says, in their recap of all the marriage cases now pending throughout the nation:
There have been 38 victories [with just two losses now] for the freedom to marry since June 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the core of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in Windsor v. United States. Twenty-two rulings have been issued in federal court, thirteen have been issued in state court, and three have been issused by a federal appellate court.

What I Say:  While it's a disappointment, this might be a blessing in disguise, according to my understanding of how the judiciary works. If all the federal courts around the country were in agreement, then the Supreme Court could avoid ruling on same-sex marriage indefinitely, there being no "controversy" to decide, as the Constitution requires. So it's not necessarily a bad thing that some antediluvian judges rule against us - it just may force Supreme Court to decide the issue sooner rather than later.

Or so it seems to me, but I'm not a lawyer.


Frank said...

I'm not entirely optimistic (Leon says I always see the glass half-empty) about the Supremes taking on the case. We could be left with states' right to define marriage being upheld and same-sex marriages being recognized/not recognized on a state-by-state basis with a door open for states to "change their minds" as the electorate winds blow and take away hard earned rights. I just think the anti-gay religious right has more staying power and influence than sense.

Davis said...

I'm kind of in Frank's camp on this, but IIRC the judge puts much of his argument again on procreation - doesn't that prevent sterile or elderly marriage?

Russ Manley said...

Well Frank, there's no guarantee what the Supremes will do, but in light of all the lower court rulings since Windsor, as well as polls, I think the country is ready for the issue to be decided in our favor, which means the Supremes will take a hint and do the job - but we'll have to wait and see what happens next year.

And Davis, yes they have never required straight couples to prove they are fertile or required them to make babies, so this old judge knows he is grasping at straws - he's just fighting a last-ditch, rear-guard battle with no real hope of success.

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