Louisiana Federal Court First to Uphold Same-Sex Marriage Ban, Cites ‘Lifestyle Choices’

A federal judge in Louisiana on Wednesday became the first in the country to uphold a state same-sex marriage ban, ruling Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman ruled that the state had a “legitimate interest” in banning same-sex marriage and that the same-sex couples who have married in the state did not have a “fundamental” right to marry. The decision is the first from a federal court to side with marriage equality foes since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in U.S. v. Windsor, which struck down a federal law that defined marriage as only unions between one man and one woman.

The suit was brought by six same-sex couples who were legally married in other states, one same-sex couple who wants to marry in Louisiana, and the Forum for Equality Louisiana, a nonprofit advocacy organization, arguing that the ban is unconstitutional.

Attorneys for the State of Louisiana defended the ban, arguing it furthered the state’s legitimate interest in “linking children with intact families formed by their biological parents, and by ensuring that fundamental social change occurs through democratic process.”

Judge Feldman, an appointee of President Reagan, agreed.

“The national same-sex marriage struggle animates a clash between convictions regarding the value of state decisions reached by way of the democratic process,” Judge Feldman wrote, “as contrasted with personal, genuine, and sincere lifestyle choices recognition.”

As to whether there is a fundamental right to same-sex marriage, Feldman ruled that “[p]ublic attitude might be becoming more diverse, but any right to same-sex marriage is not yet so entrenched as to be fundamental. There is simply no fundamental right, historically or traditionally, to same-sex marriage.”

Marriage equality advocates have enjoyed a near-uninterrupted streak of wins in both state and federal courts. While no other federal court has ruled against marriage equality until now, in August a Tennessee family court judge upheld that state’s marriage equality ban, ruling that Tennessee’s ban on same-sex marriage prevented a same-sex couple legally married in Iowa from divorcing in Tennessee.

Marriage equality advocates could appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The conservative Fifth Circuit is currently considering a decision striking a Texas ban on same-sex marriage.

The question of whether or not statewide marriage equality bans are constitutional will likely be answered by the Roberts Court this term.

So far the Supreme Court has three petitions asking it to review federal court decisions that deemed marriage equality bans unconstitutional in Utah, Virginia, and Oklahoma. Should the Court agree to hear any or all of those cases, it would likely issue a ruling next summer.

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  • fiona64

    “The national same-sex marriage struggle animates a clash between
    convictions regarding the value of state decisions reached by way of the
    democratic process,”

    Looks like Judge Feldman is pretty unfamiliar with the US Constitution and its inherent checks and balances. He’s also apparently pretty unfamiliar with Federalist Paper #10, which quite clearly lays out the Founding Fathers’ opinions on whether or not a tyrannical majority should have the right to vote on rights of minorities.

    • eroteme

      Beth co-hosts this show

      They are good at what they do, albeit rather arrogant, which is the impression you have no doubt been given.

      • fiona64

        I think she’s a giant twatwaffle; I don’t care that we’re on the same side of the issue.

        • eroteme

          I concur. Hence the use of the word ‘arrogant’


          • Arekushieru

            I hope that what I’m about to say doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable or make them lose the respect (if any ;) ) they may have for me, but all I can do is to reiterate that this is just a PERSONAL opinion and that, essentially, if pressed for an answer, I would definitely say that my opinion comes down more on eroteme’s side than the FTB mods’:

            Okay, as you all know, I tend to avoid ableist remarks and anything that can be interpreted as an insult aimed at less privileged women or a particular minority. I won’t upvote comments that I think go a bit too far. And I use a VERY broad brush for that, as most of you may also already know. However, I also believe that no one should control speech to the point that banning becomes the FIRST response. I mean, sure, ban them if they make repeated comments that contain nothing of substance, just insults, or if a group of people who are commonly targets of the specific insult used feel it is unwarranted and used too frequently even after repeated requests to stop. The common thread holding these two thoughts together, being REPEATED, of course. But, otherwise, I don’t think it should be such a huge problem, that banning becomes the FIRST option.

            Finally, it seems to me that, in regards to your latter statement, the people at FTB just aren’t thinking things through. It seems to me that they were taking a remark that was completely off-the-cuff as suggestive of some superiority in experiencing oppression. For one, I don’t read your comment that way, at all. For two, if you’re not comparing experiences, then your own personal experience is just as valid to YOU as anyone else’. For three, the way I see it, you’re using the word awful as a personal descriptor, which is nothing more than a general feeling, otherwise, rather than a word that is used to insult a specific group. Finally, did they think that you were supposed to care that your typing was awful, just because someone else may be trapped in a body that guarantees their typing will be ‘awful’? Imo, that’s asking a lot more of someone than most other people are required to do.

          • eroteme

            They didn’t ban me or anything. They are just rude and consescending to allies, because they need to control thought.

    • Unicorn Farm

      There’s a joke among lawyers studying for the bar exam that the answer “state’s rights/ the 10th amendment” is NEVER the right answer when you are asked about limits of federal power.
      it’s not a very funny joke, but it’s also correct.

  • StealthGaytheist

    So if we’re now voting on people’s rights based on the “lifestyle choice” notion, can we start voting on religious lifestyle choices?

  • fiona64

    Meanwhile, two more bans, in Indiana and Wisconsin, are found unconstitutional … http://my.earthlink.net/article/us?guid=20140904/c3172a61-2b02-4f23-9e0c-548f6805df36

  • Arachne646

    No, there is no “fundamental right to same-sex marriage”, there’s a fundamental right to equality of access to be able to contract marriage–there’s just one kind being discussed! The presumption of equality is all through your Constitution, even though race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, etc. are not mentioned, though they should be explicitly added as in other countries’ constitutions and/or human rights documents.

    I’m a Canadian, and I don’t want to sound preachy, but there’s also the question of: How are they going to recognize other out-of-state contracts, but not marriages, in Louisiana, and those others who’ve voted in bans?