A federal judge on Wednesday upheld
Louisiana's ban on gay marriage.
“Same-sex marriage is not recognized
in Louisiana and is reasonably anchored to the democratic process,”
U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman said in his 32-page ruling.
Feldman, who was nominated to the bench
by Republican President Ronald Reagan, heard arguments in the case in
June in New Orleans.
LGBT rights group Forum for Equality
Louisiana filed the 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.
In hearing the case, Feldman said he
wanted to broaden the case's scope to include whether gay couples
should be allowed to wed in the state.
“I feel uncomfortable resolving some
issues one way or the other and not all the issues one way or
another,” Feldman said at the time.
In his ruling, Feldman said that
plaintiffs had failed to prove that the ban violates the 14th
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and said that he agreed with state
attorneys who argued that the ban serves a legitimate purpose.
“Defendants rejoin that the laws
serve a central state interest of linking children to an intact
family formed by their biological parents,” he
wrote. “Of even more consequence, in this Court's judgment,
defendants assert a legitimate state interest in safeguarding that
fundamental social change, in this instance, is better cultivated
through democratic consensus. This Court agrees.”
The decision breaks a string of
victories in federal courts for marriage equality supporters since
the Supreme Court last June struck down a key provision of the
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to
Marry, criticized the ruling, saying it underscores the need for the
Supreme Court to take up the issue.
“Loss in LA is why couples should not
have to fight state by state, case by case, year by year,” he
messaged. “Time for #SupremeCourt to rule nationwide.”
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.