New lawsuit challenges ban of same-sex marriage in Louisiana

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wwltv.com

Posted on February 12, 2014 at 7:32 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 12 at 11:34 PM

Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
Email: jkelley@wwltv.com | Twitter: @jkelleyWWL

NEW ORLEANS -- A federal judge in Kentucky struck down the state's ban on recognizing same-sex marriages performed legally in other states.

Now the gay rights group, Forum for Equality Louisiana, hopes to get that same ban lifted in Louisiana.

Like so many other same-sex couples, Andrew and his partner Nick got married this past August after the Supreme Court ruled that a key component of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.

Now that the New Orleans couple has started a family, they are concerned about the future. That is because only one them can be the legal parent to their adopted daughter, Jules.

"What would happen to her, would she be left in limbo?" said Dr. Nick Van Sickles. "Would just be so much better if we were both parents and have the security most parents feel."

With the help of the gay rights group The Forum of Equality Louisiana, they and three other married, same-sex couples have filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday.

The lawsuit claims it's unconstitutional for the state of Louisiana not to recognize legal same-sex marriages performed outside the state.

"They deserve the equal protections, the same constitutional protections as anyone else," said John Dension the chairman of the Forum for Equality Foundation. "Particularly those who are married in others states."

Legally married same-sex couples can now file joint federal tax returns, but here in Louisiana they cannot file joint state returns.

"It's a violation of the equal protection clause because Louisiana will recognize opposite-sex marriages that are entered into in another state, even if that marriage would not be recognized here in Louisiana," said lead attorney Dalton Courson of Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann L.L.C.

The lawsuit seeks to grant same-sex married couples the same rights as other married couples when it comes to making medical decisions about their spouses and their children.

"Look at our family. We are just a normal, happy family," said Van Sickles. "That's all we want to be."

We reached out to the National Organization for Marriage for a comment, but were not able to reach them before news time. However, in a statement released Wednesday, the group condemned the federal ruling in Kentucky.

 

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