A federal judge in New Orleans became the first in the nation to uphold traditional marriage laws today, ruling Louisiana has a right to regulate marriage as it sees fit.
Louisiana bans same-sex marriage and does not recognize such unions formed in other states. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman said the couples challenging the laws failed to prove they violated the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection or due process provisions. The couples also argued the state’s laws violate the First Amendment because they can’t file joint tax returns, which would allow them to access federal tax deductions.
The state’s attorneys argued that last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act upheld state’s rights when it comes to defining marriage. Feldman agreed. As in all the other successful challenges to state marriage laws, the gay couples argued the DOMA ruling declared all same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional.
The ruling breaks a string of more than 20 decisions in favor of gay couples suing for the right to marry in all 50 states. Nineteen states already recognize same-sex marriage. Supporters of traditional marriage are focusing their arguments in legal challenges on the state’s rights issue. Rulings in favor of gay marriage have overturned voter-approved laws upholding traditional marriage.
The Louisiana couples, represented by Forum on Equality, plan to appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.