A federal judge hearing arguments in a
case seeking to force Louisiana to recognize the out-of-state
marriages of gay and lesbian couples expanded the case to include
whether gay couples should be allowed to wed in the state.
U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, who
was nominated to the bench by Republican President Ronald Reagan,
threw lawyers for a loop when he stated he wanted to broaden the
case's scope, saying it would be unfair to rule “piecemeal.”
“I feel uncomfortable resolving some
issues one way or the other and not all the issues one way or
said at the end of Wednesday's 90-minute hearing in New Orleans.
LGBT rights group Forum for Equality
Louisiana filed a case in February on behalf of four gay couples who
say the state's refusal to recognize their out-of-state marriages
violates the U.S. constitutional guarantees of equal protection and
due process. The case was consolidated with a similar challenge
involving two gay couples.
An overwhelming majority (78%) of
voters approved Louisiana's 2004 constitutional amendment which
states that marriage “shall consist only of the union of one man
and one woman” and prohibits state officials and judges from
recognizing the out-of-state marriages of gay couples.
The Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the
amendment in 2005.