Judge upholds discrimination in Louisiana, underscoring urgency of SCOTUS action
September 03, 2014
Today, September 3, a federal judge became the first in over a year to uphold marriage discrimination in a legal challenge to a constitutional amendment restricting marriage to different-sex couples in Louisiana. The ruling is one of just two losses after a steady, momentous stream of 38 victories for the freedom to marry, and it underscores the urgency of the United States Supreme Court taking action and bringing the country to national resolution on marriage.
The ruling today from U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in Louisiana was in Robicheaux et. al v. Caldwell, a federal case consolidated earlier this year with Louisiana Forum for Equality v. Barfield. The cases originally sought respect for marriages legally performed in other states, but in June, Judge Feldman ordered additional briefing in the case about whether same-sex couples should be free to marry within the state of Louisiana.
The plaintiffs and legal team in the case will likely appeal the out-of-step ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which is already slated to consider a case from Texas where a federal judge ruled in favor of marriage.
The lead plaintiffs in the case, lifelong Louisianans Derek Penton and Jon Robicheaux, spoke with Freedom to Marry earlier this year about why marriage matters to them. They reflected on the decision today, writing on their Facebook page for the case, "We will continue to explore all of our options, we have always known that this would not be the end all decision for either parties involved - we will continue to move forward."
Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson discussed the ruling today, explaining, "We've won nearly all of the 40 state and federal marriage cases this year. Today's Louisiana loss is a reminder that we're not done. The loss is why couples should not have to fight state by state, case by case, year by year. It's time for the Supreme Court to rule nationwide."
Since June 2013, 38 rulings in state and federal court have been issued in favor of the freedom to marry, with just one other judge, a state judge ruling in family court in Tennessee, affirming the constitutionality of a state's marriage ban. This Louisiana ruling does not change the fact that the freedom to marry has enjoyed a historic winning streak in court this year - rather, it is a reminder that we must continue working as hard we can to show that America - all of America - is ready for marriage.