Over the past several years, state Supreme Courts have ruled repeatedly against the Constitutionality of state bans on same-sex marriage. However, a ruling on September 3 out of Louisiana departed from that trend and decisively supported a local gay marriage ban.
What Happened in Louisiana, and Why Was It Different from What’s Been Happening?
Many state courts have determined that gay marriage bans violate Section 1 of the United States Constitution’s 14th Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause.
In part, this section says: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Other courts have struck down statewide bans on gay marriage as Unconstitutional, arguing that such bans deny certain people (gay citizens) equal protection.
In the recent Louisiana decision, however, United States District Judge Martin Feldman asserted that a court’s decision to uphold the ban was in line with public opinion. His arguments in defense of the decision also included the following:
- Federal protected class status does not extend to sexual orientation.
- State bans on same-sex marriage are not based in animosity or hatred, as some have suggested.
- The State of Louisiana has an interest in keeping children together with their biological parents.
- “Social change” issues, such as marriage rights, should be decided democratically, rather than through the courts.
How Will this Decision Affect the Gay Marriage Debate?
It is not yet clear how the Louisiana court’s decision will impact the gay marriage debate at the national and state level, although family law lawyers in Alexandria VA and beyond are standing by to evaluate its impact. With similar pending cases in Oklahoma, Virginia, Utah, Indiana, and Wisconsin, individuals on both sides of the debate are watching and listening to see whether other states’ courts use this case as a model for their own decisions.
However, the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 2013 — as well as growing public support for same-sex marriage — may indicate that the tides have decisively turned in favor of equal legal standing for all couples.
Do you need assistance with a same-sex domestic or family-related legal matter? The D.C. family law attorneys at DiPietro Family Law Group, PLLC have experience and can work with you to resolve your matter. Call us today at (888) 530-4374 to arrange a consultation.