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Friday, June 26, 2015

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

click to enlarge 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. 

The hold-up was an order from the Louisiana Clerks of Court Association, which advised Louisiana to wait 25 days before issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples like Robinson and Benjamin. In a statement, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said that it was not necessary to issue licenses immediately, despite the nationwide ruling. 

"There is not yet a legal requirement for officials to issue marriage licenses or perform marriages for same-sex couples in Louisiana," Caldwell said in a statement. "The Attorney General's Office will be watching for the Court to issue a mandate or order making today’s decision final and effective and will issue a statement when that occurs."

John Hill shows off the flag while waiting for the first same-sex couple in New Orleans to get married in Civil District Court. - JEANIE RIESS
  • John Hill shows off the flag while waiting for the first same-sex couple in New Orleans to get married in Civil District Court.
Chris Otten, chair of Forum for Equality, said earlier this morning that the nonprofit's lawyers "will shortly be following up with the 5th District, asking it to apply the Supreme Court ruling in our lawsuit that we filed against Louisiana last year, ultimately to get a judgement officially telling Louisiana that the ban is unconstitutional." 

Otten called this a procedural formality, however, since the Supreme Court's decision trumps local jurisdiction. "A legal argument could be made that without that judgement, it's not yet official," he said. "But certainly I think any clerk of court can read the opinion and read the writing on the wall and start implementing it."

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