[JURIST] A federal judge on Wednesday upheld [order] Louisiana's ban on same-sex marriage, saying that same-sex marriage supporters had failed to prove that the ban violates the equal protection or due process provisions of the Constitution. The ruling by Judge Martin Feldman of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana [official website] also preserves [AP report] the state's ability to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed outside of the state. The opinion says that the states have a right to define the institution of marriage, rejecting the argument that the ban also violated First Amendment rights of same-sex couples. Attorneys for both same-sex couples and for the state both cited to US v. Windsor [JURIST report] to support their positions, with the state arguing that the Defense of Marriage Act ruling emphasized that the right to define marriage belonged to state voters and legislatures. The decision comes as the result of a federal lawsuit [complaint, PDF] filed [JURIST report] in February by four same-sex couples and the Forum of Equality Louisiana [advocacy website] challenging the Louisiana Constitution's prohibition [Article XIII section 15] against recognizing same-sex marriages performed legally in other states.
Since the US Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] section three of the Defense of Marriage Act [text] last year, numerous state and federal courts have declared state same-sex marriage bans [JURIST backgrounder] unconstitutional. In August the Florida Second District Court of Appeal [official website] issued [JURIST report] an opinion [text; PDF] calling upon the Florida Supreme Court [official website] to rule on the constitutionality of the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Earlier that week a three-judge panel from the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] heard arguments [JURIST report] on Wisconsin and Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage. In June a federal judge in Indiana ruled [JURIST report] the state's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Also in June the ACLU challenged Alabama's same-sex marriage ban, days after Wisconsin's same-sex marriage ban [JURIST reports] was struck down. In May a federal judge struck down [JURIST report] Pennsylvania's same-sex marriage ban. Nineteen US states currently allow same-sex marriage, and more than 70 lawsuits are pending in all 31 others.