Louisiana Judge Rules Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

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Louisiana Judge Rules Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Jessica Mason Pieklo

The decision conflicts with an earlier federal court ruling declaring Louisiana's ban constitutional.

A Louisiana state judge ruled Monday that the state’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.

Judge Edward Rubin of the 15th Judicial District Court ruled the ban violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The decision came in the adoption case of Angie Costanza and Christy Brewer. They were married in 2008 in California, but their marriage was not recognized by the State of Louisiana due to the ban. The couple sued the state in 2013 when Costanza wanted to adopt her partner’s son and be listed as a parent on his birth certificate.

In his ruling, Judge Rubin compared the state’s argument to those made in Plessy v. Ferguson, the infamous U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled Louisiana’s system of “separate but equal” railcars for whites and other cars for Blacks were constitutional, writing, “[t]here are those who might argue that gays and lesbians can be treated differently, and yet be considered to be equal to the rest of Americans.”

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As reported by the New Orleans Times-Picayune, state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell plans to appeal the decision directly to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

Monday’s ruling does not immediately grant same-sex couples the right to marry in Louisiana. Instead, the court would first have to order clerks to issue marriage licenses to those same-sex couples that wanted to marry. According to the Times-Picayne, that has not happened yet.

Judge Rubin’s ruling conflicts with a federal court decision from District Judge Martin Feldman in early September, which said the Louisiana ban did not violate the U.S. Constitution. Judge Feldman’s decision was the first from a federal court to side with anti-marriage equality advocates since the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in U.S. v. Windsor striking down a federal law that defined marriage as only those unions between one man and one woman.

That case is currently being appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to consider next week a series of requests to decide the issue of whether or not states can constitutionally ban or limit same-sex marriages.