Following a spate of unprecedented marriage equality victories in the US, a Louisiana Federal Judge has become the first in over a year to rule that a state’s gay marriage ban is constitutional.
On Wednesday, Judge Martin Feldman shocked the country’s LGBT community when he upheld Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Until now, no state marriage ban had survived a federal court ruling since the US Supreme Court handed down its historic marriage decision in United States v. Windsor case in June last year.
In his conservative ruling, Judge Feldman stated that decisions on same-sex marriage were best left to lawmakers and voters and not the courts. He said that “it is not for this Court to resolve the wisdom of same-sex marriage,” arguing that “fundamental social change, in this instance, is better cultivated through democratic consensus.”
He also claimed that there are no fundamental rights at stake, even though the US Supreme Court has determined that marriage is a fundamental right in more than a dozen cases.
Judge Feldman dismissed copious academic research demonstrating that the children of same-sex couples fair just as well as the children of opposite-sex couples. He wrote: “Louisiana’s laws and Constitution are directly related to achieving marriage’s historically preeminent purpose of linking children to their biological parents.”
He even went so far as to suggest that legalising same-sex marriage could lead to legalising incest. “And so, inconvenient questions persist. For example, must states permit or recognise a marriage between an aunt and niece? Aunt and nephew? Brother/brother? Father and child? May minors marry? Must marriage be limited to only two people? What about a transgender spouse? Is such a union same-gender or male-female?” he asked.
Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow commented that the ruling had “put up a roadblock on a path constructed by twenty-one federal court rulings over the last year – a path that inevitably leads to nationwide marriage equality.”
The Forum for Equality said that it will appeal the ruling. “We will take this fight all the way to the Supreme Court! We will not let one decision turn back the tide of victories because we stand on the right side of history,” stated the group.
There are more than 70 court cases challenging discriminatory marriage bans across the US. Same-sex couples can legally marry in nineteen states and the District of Columbia, while 31 states have a law or constitutional amendment restricting marriage to the union of one man and one woman.