A federal judge ruled yesterday that Louisiana has the right to ban same-sex marriage in the state and to refuse to recognize legal same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.
Judge Martin L.C. Feldman upheld the state’s ban on marriage equality, writing, “The court is persuaded that a meaning of what is marriage that has endured in history for thousands of years, and prevails in a majority of states today, is not universally irrational on the constitutional grid.”
In determining the constitutionality of the Louisiana ban, Judge Feldman, who was nominated to the bench by Ronald Reagan in 1983, applied a lower standard of review. Judge Feldman refused to apply heightened scrutiny, not because he rejected the idea that marriage is a fundamental right, but because, relying on tradition, he found no fundamental right to same-sex marriage.
This is the first federal ruling to go against marriage equality since the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. Since the Supreme Court’s decision, there have been 21 federal court rulings in a row in favor of marriage equality.
Feldman also suggested in his opinion that allowing same-sex couples to legally marry would be the beginning of a slippery slope to legalizing incest: “For example, must the states permit or recognize a marriage between an aunt and niece? Aunt and nephew? Brother/brother? Father and child?”
In the same ruling, Feldman suggests being gay is a choice: “This national same-sex marriage struggle animates a clash between convictions regarding the value of state decisions reached by way of the democratic process as contrasted with personal, genuine, and sincere lifestyle choices recognition.”
Following the ruling, Sarah Warbelow, legal director at Human Rights Campaign, said, “Today a federal district court put up a roadblock on a path constructed by 21 federal court rulings over the last year – a path that inevitably leads to nationwide marriage equality. Ultimately the nine justices of the Supreme Court of the United States will be asked to decide whether committed and loving gay and lesbian couples should be denied an institution that they, themselves, have deemed a constitutional right more than a dozen times. We firmly believe that justice will ultimately be done.”
The case will most likely be appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which is already slated to hear an appeal of a federal court decision striking down the Texas marriage equality ban.
Same-sex marriage is currently legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
Media Resources: Human Rights Campaign 9/3/2014; US District Court Eastern District of Louisiana 9/3/2014; The Huffington Post 9/3/2014; SCOTUS Blog 9/3/2014; The Washington Post 9/3/2014; Feminist Newswire 2/28/14