Louisiana's same sex marriage ban expected to be challenged - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Louisiana's same sex marriage ban expected to be challenged


New Orleans, La. — In Louisiana, same-sex marriage is not allowed under the law. But the state's ban is expected to come under attack in the courts, given the pair of landmark rulings handed down Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"I honestly just don't see the point," said Michael Sheehan, owner of two bars on North Rampart Street.

He is openly gay and was not celebrating the high court's ruling that will clear the way for gays and lesbians to wed in the state of California.

"If you've been with somebody for long enough I don't see the necessity of having to get a piece of paper signed saying that I want to be with you for the rest of my life," said Sheehan.

But locally, some others were thrilled over not only the ruling that voids Proposition 8 in California, which barred same-sex couples from marrying there, but also the decision which knocked down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

"Couples who now live in Louisiana will be able to get the benefit of some of the federal benefits that apply to married couples," said Marjorie Esman, executive director of the local chapter of the ACLU.

In 2004, Louisiana voters overwhelmingly voted to ban same-sex marriage. The Louisiana Family Forum was out front in getting that measure approved.

Gene Mills, president of the Louisiana Family Forum, said it is important to note that neither of the high court's decisions changes Louisiana's law.

"This did not override or undermine existing state statutes or constitutions," said Mills.

Mills said the justices also did not declare that individuals have a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. "I am pleased that they decided against going with a sweeping change, attempting to redefine marriage in every state," he stated.

Governor Bobby Jindal also weighed in on the issue.

"I believe every child deserves a mom and a dad. This opinion leaves the matter of marriage to the states where people can decide. In Louisiana, we will opt for traditional marriage," said the governor.

Jindal's statement went on to say, "How about we let the people decide for themselves, via their representatives and via referendum?"

Meanwhile, state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said his office is reviewing the opinions.

"As we all know, a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court is the law of the land. Additionally, as we are required to do whenever the court issues a decision, we have to carefully study the ruling to determine what the present or future impact on Louisiana may be. At this time, our attorneys are carefully reviewing the decision to make that determination," said Caldwell.

Still, backers of bans on same-sex marriage believe the clock is ticking. They expect legal fights in states that outlaw such unions.

"I think the Proposition 8 case probably makes that virtually inevitable. There will be state-by-state skirmishes and litigation… Generally they've gained ground or more territory by gaining wins with the judiciary, and I have a feeling that that trend will continue," he said.

"It will not be tomorrow, it will not be next year, it will be another few years, but it will come," said Esman.

Political analyst Silas Lee said public opinion has changed rapidly on the issue.

"You notice it's been a very short window where you notice an elevation in public support. Now in Louisiana, we haven't seen that yet. I would say give it a few more years," said Dr. Lee.

As for Sheehan, he is content not being able to marry his partner.

"I've been with my partner for 14 years, I'm never going to leave him," he said.

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