Louisiana judge strikes down same-sex marriage ban

A state judge has clashed with the federal court, declaring Louisiana's ban on marriage equality unconstitutional

Published September 23, 2014 1:39PM (EDT)

             (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

Earlier this month, a federal judge upheld Louisiana's ban on same-sex marriage, ruling against the trend in favor of marriage equality and making the state ban the first to survive since the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Windsor last year. Now, that could change. On Monday, a Louisiana state court judge in Lafayette struck down the ban, ruling that all same-sex marriages in the state should be recognized and all same-sex couples allowed to marry.

According to KATC television, Judge Edward Rubin ruled in favor of Angela Marie Costanza and Chasity Shanelle Brewer, a couple who married in California in 2008 and moved to Louisiana to raise their son (who is Brewer's biological child). Costanza and Brewer filed a lawsuit to have their marriage recognized and to allow Costanza to adopt their child, so the three would be viewed by the state as a family. Clashing sharply with the federal court that upheld the same-sex marriage ban just three weeks earlier, Rubin reportedly offered a point-by-point takedown of the law, and found it to be in violation of the equal protection and due process clauses, as well as the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Rubin's ruling is not yet available to the public as the case involves a minor, but BuzzFeed, which was granted early access to the opinion, has posted several key details:

Rubin ordered that Costanza is able to adopt the child under the “intrafamily adoption” provision in state law because her marriage to Brewer is recognized in Louisiana. Additionally, he ordered that the head of the state’s Department of Revenue must allow the couple to file a tax return as a married couple.

Despite the lack of any plaintiffs in the case seeking to marry in Louisiana, Rubin went further, enjoining state officials from enforcing those laws insofar as they prevent same-sex couples from marrying — in order words, ordering state officials to allow same-sex couples to marry. ...

Rubin goes on to swat down the state’s argument about allowing for widespread consensus before adopting such a change and decries any support for a system of “separate but equal” through analysis of the country’s history with racial discrimination. He then concludes that any remaining reasons given by the state for the bans, such as keeping children connected with their biological parents, have no connection to the bans themselves and that, therefore, there is no rational basis for the bans and they are unconstitutional.

It is possible that Rubin's order to marriage equality across the state could be upheld on appeal. KATC reports that Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell's office has already initiated the appeals process.

By Jenny Kutner

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Buzzfeed Edward Rubin Equality Lgbtq Lgbtq Equality Lgbtq Rights Louisiana Marriage Equality Same-sex Marriage