LGBT

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban is overturned

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2015 at 11:30 AM

Jacqueline Brettner speaks to a crowd at Jackson Square on June 26. Brettner and her spouse Lauren were plaintiffs in a Louisiana suit challenging the state's same-sex marriage ban, which was overturned today by a federal judge in the wake of the SCOTUS ruling.
  • Jacqueline Brettner speaks to a crowd at Jackson Square on June 26. Brettner and her spouse Lauren were plaintiffs in a Louisiana suit challenging the state's same-sex marriage ban, which was overturned today by a federal judge in the wake of the SCOTUS ruling.

Update:  The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals says marriage licenses are now available to same-sex couples in New Orleans.
Today the Eastern District Court of Louisiana ordered the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples who complete a marriage application at the Department's Office of Vital Records in Orleans Parish. The Department made necessary modifications to the marriage license application printed forms and the certified copies. Additional long-term changes will be made to the Louisiana Electronic Event Registration System (LEERS) to accommodate the changes necessitated by the court's judgement. Marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples by clerks of court in Louisiana and submitted to Vital Records will also be documented in the LEERS system.
A federal judge has recalled and rescinded a judgment upholding Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban. The order from U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman — who upheld the ban in his 2014 ruling — follows the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning same-sex marriage bans, as well as yesterday's Fifth District Court of Appeals ruling in the Louisiana case attempting to overturn the state's ban. The appellate court ruled the high court's decision is "the law of the land" and handed the case back to the District Court to reverse its ruling. Feldman complied this morning.

"It is so ordered that this Court's Order and Reasons and the accompanying Judgment dated September 3, 2014, are hereby recalled and rescinded."

Feldman's order overturns Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban and says the state must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples seeking them. Feldman's ruling also enforces the state to recognize same-sex marriages that were performed in other states, and that same-sex couples can jointly adopt and be recognized as parents on their children's birth certificates. The ruling also enforces the state to allow same-sex married couples to jointly file their taxes.

Gov. Bobby Jindal said he was waiting for the Fifth District's decision before he advised state agencies to comply with the law, but when that decision was handed down yesterday, Jindal said he wanted to wait, again, this time for the District Court.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Fifth Circuit appeals court will follow SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 6:20 PM

Hundreds of people rallied in Jackson Square on June 26 following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage.
  • Hundreds of people rallied in Jackson Square on June 26 following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 26 that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states. But Gov. Bobby Jindal wanted to wait on another court ruling to determine whether the state will adhere to the high court's decision. "Of course we're going to comply with a court order," Jindal said on Meet the Press last Sunday. "We don't have a choice."

In January, a three-panel judge at the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in a Louisiana case in which same-sex couples pushed the state to overturn its same-sex marriage ban. The appellate court waited to issue its ruling, as the Supreme Court's ultimate, superseding decision on Obergefell v. Hodges was pending anyway. Today, the Fifth Circuit ruled that the Supreme Court's decision is "the law of the land":
Obergefell, in both its Fourteenth and First Amendment iterations, is the law of the land and, consequently, the law of this circuit and should not be taken lightly by actors within the jurisdiction of this court. We express no view on how controversies involving the intersection of these rights should be resolved but instead leave that to the robust operation of our system of laws and the good faith of those who are impacted by them.
The Fifth Circuit ruling sends the case back to U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman along with an order to reverse his decision, effectively eliminating Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban. The Fifth Circuit ruling also attaches a July 17 deadline for the District Court, as one of the plaintiffs, Robert Welles, is ill.

But following the ruling, Jindal said state agencies will continue to follow the state's ban on same-sex marriages until the District Court orders otherwise.

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Y@ Speak: nothing happened last week

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 at 5:30 PM


Nothing happened last week. David Vitter ate a sandwich.

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OPINION: Louisiana joins the rest of the nation with today's same-sex marriage licensures

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 at 4:26 PM

The 900 block of Bourbon Street, the day after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriages in every state. Two days later, Louisiana issued its first same-sex marriage licenses.
  • The 900 block of Bourbon Street, the day after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriages in every state. Two days later, Louisiana issued its first same-sex marriage licenses.


Last Friday, June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court made it clear that no state in the nation could deny the benefits (and responsibilities) of marriage to same-sex couples. So New Orleanians Michael Robinson and Earl Benjamin, who had been together 21 years, applied for a marriage license in Orleans Parish. They were denied, even as other opposite-sex couples got their licenses with no problem.

Several days after the Supreme Court decision, Louisiana was the only state in the union not to comply with the ruling. For that, you can thank Gov. Bobby Jindal and state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.

First Caldwell said the Supreme Court decision wasn’t clear as to when marriages could commence, adding he “found nothing in the decision that makes the court's order effective immediately.” The Louisiana Clerks of Court Association thus recommended a 25-day waiting period. Then Jindal claimed the state would comply — only “when the 5th Circuit Court orders the ruling into effect.” Possibly relying upon pendency of a ruling against same-sex marriages by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, Jindal suggested a Supreme Court decision wasn’t truly final until a federal appellate court said so.

It was only a month ago that Jindal was sniping at President Barack Obama, saying that Harvard Law School’s “most famous graduate has a problem obeying the law.” This week, we saw that one of the nation’s most ambitious politicians really has a problem obeying the law — and doesn’t mind giving Louisiana yet another a black eye in the process.

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Louisiana's first same-sex marriage performed in New Orleans

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 at 2:45 PM

Michael Robinson and Earl Benjamin married in New Orleans.
  • Michael Robinson and Earl Benjamin married in New Orleans.

At about 12:45 p.m. Monday, June 29, New Orleans couple Michael Robinson and Earl Benjamin — partners for nearly 15 years — wed in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.

"By the virtue of the powers and authority conferred upon me by the Constitution and the laws of the state of Louisiana and in the presence of the God almighty, I pronounce you, Michael Robinson, and you Earl Benjamin Jr., to be legally married spouses under the laws of this nation in the state of Louisiana," said District Court Judge Paula Brown, who performed the ceremony. "You may now kiss your spouse."

The couple became the first in Louisiana to legally marry in the state following Friday's U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturns same-sex marriage bans in all 50 states and requires states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states where they previously were legal. Louisiana was the last state to accept same-sex marriage licenses.

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Jefferson Parish becomes first in the state to issue same-sex marriage licenses

Posted By and on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 at 11:15 AM

Celeste Autin and Alesia LeBoeuf, both employees of the Jefferson Parish Clerk of Courts office, applied for and received a marriage license in Jefferson Parish this morning. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • ALEX WOODWARD
  • Celeste Autin and Alesia LeBoeuf, both employees of the Jefferson Parish Clerk of Courts office, applied for and received a marriage license in Jefferson Parish this morning.

As of this morning, Jefferson Parish is issuing marriage licenses to any adult couple who applies, confirmed a spokeswoman for Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court Jon Gegenheimer.

One couple already has applied, she said. That couple is Celeste Autin and Alesia LeBoeuf, both employees of the clerk's office, who were wed at 10:32 a.m.

The couple is from Marrero and met in high school. They've been together 38 years.

"It's not so much about being the first one to get the license as it is just getting a license," LeBoeuf told Gambit.

Michael Robinson and Earl Benjamin, who were turned away from receiving a license in Orleans Parish on Friday, are now filling out paperwork for a Jefferson Parish license.

Earl Benjamin fills out a marriage license form in Jefferson Parish. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • ALEX WOODWARD
  • Earl Benjamin fills out a marriage license form in Jefferson Parish.

Earl Benjamin and Michael Robinson back in Orleans Parish with their Jefferson Parish-issued marriage license, awaiting Judge Paula Brown, who will perform their ceremony. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • ALEX WOODWARD
  • Earl Benjamin and Michael Robinson back in Orleans Parish with their Jefferson Parish-issued marriage license, awaiting Judge Paula Brown, who will perform their ceremony.

Orleans Parish, along with every other parish in the state, is still waiting on advice from Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the Louisiana Clerks of Court Association. As of yesterday, Gov. Bobby Jindal said the state would comply with Friday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling only after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its own ruling — a position that legal scholars said was unsupported. 

This is a developing story.

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Jindal: Louisiana will comply with Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage, but has no timetable

Posted By on Sun, Jun 28, 2015 at 2:05 PM

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Gov. Bobby Jindal said today on NBC's Meet the Press that Louisiana would soon be acting in accord with Friday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in America, but he didn't have a timetable.

Louisiana is now the only state in the union that hasn't issued a marriage license to two men or two women.

"Of course we're going to comply with the court order. We don't have a choice," Jindal told Meet the Press host Chuck Todd:

Jindal said he was waiting for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse that ruling based on the Supreme Court's decision Friday.

As of Sunday afternoon, Louisiana was the only state in the nation that had not issued any marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

"As soon as [the courts] issue their ruling, I suspect it will be a matter of days. I don't know how quickly they will move," Jindal said when asked how soon he will comply with the law.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

New Orleans celebrates SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 9:05 PM

Christina and Carolyn Lucas married in New York in 2014 and have been together since 2004.
  • Christina and Carolyn Lucas married in New York in 2014 and have been together since 2004.

"We went to sleep last night, we weren't married. When we got up today, we were."

Carolyn Lucas married her partner Christina in New York last year. They brought their marriage certificate to a rally where hundreds of people celebrated today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed same-sex couples to marry in all 50 states and recognizes already married same-sex couples in states that have banned their marriages.

"I feel like I'm finally accepted by my own country," Christina said. "We feel more like citizens."

As the sun set over the French Quarter, hundreds of people filled Jackson Square outside St. Louis Cathedral, carrying equality signs, wrapped in rainbow flags, faces painted with "Love Rules" and waving U.S. flags. A rally opened with a booming national anthem and pledge of allegiance, ending with a roaring "with liberty and justice for all."

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Bobby Jindal on SCOTUS ruling: "Words have no meaning ... the Constitution is irrelevant"

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 4:08 PM

Attendees at a same-sex marriage rally at the U.S. Supreme Court in March. After today's 5-4 ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, Gov. Bobby Jindal blasted the court, saying, ""If I were a cynic, I’d tell the Supreme Court to stand for election, since they have now taken to making law rather than interpreting it. Or, we could simply eliminate the Court altogether, and just make all decisions with an online opinion poll." - CREATIVE COMMONS/ELVERT BARNES
  • CREATIVE COMMONS/ELVERT BARNES
  • Attendees at a same-sex marriage rally at the U.S. Supreme Court in March. After today's 5-4 ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, Gov. Bobby Jindal blasted the court, saying, ""If I were a cynic, I’d tell the Supreme Court to stand for election, since they have now taken to making law rather than interpreting it. Or, we could simply eliminate the Court altogether, and just make all decisions with an online opinion poll."


Gov. Bobby Jindal — currently on the presidential campaign trail in Iowa — sent out an email this morning decrying the U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage: "The Supreme Court decision today conveniently and not surprisingly follows public opinion polls. It tramples on rights that were once protected by the 10th Amendment of the Constitution," Jindal wrote, adding, "Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that."  He concluded with a request for donations.

Later in the day, Jindal gave full voice to his objections in a POLITICO article in which he declared:

If you’re keeping score at home, here’s where we stand:
· Words have no meaning;
· The Constitution is irrelevant;
· The First Amendment is under assault; and
· The Tenth Amendment is a relic to be ignored.

Jindal also suggested, sarcastically, "If I were a cynic, I’d tell the Supreme Court to stand for election, since they have now taken to making law rather than interpreting it. Or, we could simply eliminate the Court altogether, and just make all decisions with an online opinion poll. That would be cheaper for taxpayers." 

Meanwhile, the Forum for Equality Louisiana, which is planning a 6:30 p.m. rally tonight in Jackson Square, issued a statement from chair Chris Otten:

“We are very disappointed to announce that as of right now, we are unaware of any Clerks of Court issuing marriage licenses. The Attorney General and the Louisiana Clerks of Court Association have both advised that they do not believe the Supreme Court ruling yet applies to the State of Louisiana as a technical matter. We believe that this advice ignores the clear command of the Supreme Court of the United States, and it is further evidence of the discrimination and continued harm we have fought for more than twenty-six years to correct,” said Chris Otten, chair of the Forum for Equality Louisiana, the organization that filed Louisiana’s same-sex marriage case.

“We are currently exploring all options with our legal team, and we will update you as soon as we have more information. The great news: the question is no longer if Louisiana will get marriage equality; the question is now WHEN. And we will not stop fighting until all sixty-four parishes obtain real equality under the law, as promised by the Supreme Court’s decision today.”

“We hope Gov. Jindal does not continue to be a roadblock on the road to equality that 37 states have already traveled. Louisiana’s same-sex couples have waited long enough, often at considerable expense to protect their relationships and families."

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Despite U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Louisiana same-sex couples must wait to get married

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 2:11 PM

JEANIE RIESS
  • JEANIE RIESS

Representatives of Forum for Equality gathered outside of Louisiana Civil District Court this morning, excitedly checking their smartphones to track the progress of a couple obtaining a marriage license at nearby Benson Tower.

That couple was Michael Robinson, 41, and Earl Benjamin, 39, who were first in line to get a marriage license after the United States Supreme Court ruled today that same-sex marriage is a right in all 50 states. The two were supposed to make their way to the courthouse, but after two hours, they hadn't made any progress. 

"This was supposed to be over by 10:30 a.m.," said John Hill, director of communications for Forum for Equality. It was nearly noon, and it was clear there'd been a hold-up. 

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