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

NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge heard arguments Wednesday on whether Louisiana should recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The state argues states have the right to define marriage its own way, but a lawsuit brought on by the Forum for Equality Louisiana and six same-sex couples is challenging that.

Now, the LGBT community is one step closer to seeing same-sex marriages recognized in Louisiana.

'Walking here today, it hit me just how important it is, not just as a parent, which of course is essential to my participation, but as a human being,' said Jackie Brettner, one of the plaintiffs in the case.

Brettner is among six married, same-sex couples who joined a lawsuit filed against the state earlier this year.

In the lawsuit it claims the state has violated the couples' constitutional rights by refusing to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman heard arguments from both sides Wednesday.

During the hearing, Feldman said he will not only take up the matter of recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages, but will also make a ruling on several issues around the debate, including whether same-sex couples should have the right to marry in Louisiana.

'Today obviously is an historic day for us, but it certainly isn't the last day,' says Forum for Equality Louisiana Chair Elect Chris Otten. 'No matter how this case proceeds from here, I am sure there will be opinions, appeals and everything else.

While Feldman was hearing arguments about why Louisiana should recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states, two other federal judges struck down same-sex marriage bans in Indiana and Utah.

The LGBT community says this could bode well in the case before Feldman.

'It was amazing when we got outside and could turn our back phones and were able to see two more decisions, raising it to 15 decisions so far,' says Forum for Equality Chair Mary Griggs.

'It could be argued that there's significant weight behind us at this point,' Otten said. 'But I don't hold any false pretenses or illusions. The judge is going to come to his own decision.'

Same-sex couple are hoping these small victories will ultimately help pave the way for marriage equality in Louisiana.

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