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La. high court reinstates marriage amend. passed by voters

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–The Louisiana Supreme Court unanimously ruled Jan. 19 that the state’s marriage amendment is constitutional, overturning a lower court ruling and handing pro-family leaders nationwide a significant legal win.

The ruling means that the amendment is now part of the state’s constitution.

“This decision is a victory for the people of Louisiana and for justice and democracy,” Mike Johnson, an attorney with the pro-family legal group Alliance Defense Fund, told Baptist Press. Johnson was involved in the amendment’s legal defense.

“We’re particularly excited because the ruling really does set a precedent for the rest of the country.”

Louisiana was one of 13 states to pass an amendment banning same-sex “marriage” last year. Homosexual and liberal activists subsequently filed lawsuits in four of the states to have them overturned.

Louisiana voters approved their amendment in September by a margin of 78-22 percent, but the next month District Judge William Morvant ruled that it violated the Louisiana constitution by addressing multiple subjects, banning both same-sex “marriage” and civil unions. Voters who opposed same-sex “marriage” but favored civil unions had no choice, Morvant argued.

But the Louisiana Supreme Court disagreed.

“Each provision of the amendment is germane to the single object of defense of marriage and constitutes an element of the plan advanced to achieve this object,” the court ruled.

The controversy in Louisiana centered on the amendment’s third sentence: “A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.” The sentence bans Vermont-type civil unions and California-type domestic partnerships — which provide homosexual couples the legal benefits of marriage without using the word “marriage” itself.

The Louisiana ruling is significant because the amendments in other states are similar to Louisiana’s.

“That same approach was taken by eight of the other 11 states that passed their own amendments Nov. 2,” Johnson said. “So this is a very important ruling for all of those states and the rest of the country.

“Now we finally have precedent from the court, saying, ‘Yes, that it is an acceptable means to this end.”

Johnson and the Alliance Defense Fund were representing Louisiana state legislators, the Louisiana Family Forum and the American Family Association of New Orleans.

State constitutional amendments tie the hands of state courts, preventing rulings similar to what took place in Massachusetts, which saw its high court legalize same-sex “marriage.”

Louisiana was one of 13 states to pass marriage amendments last year. They passed with an average of 70.8 percent of the vote.

Even though Louisiana’s amendment passed easily, state law provides a brief window of opportunity to challenge the constitutionality of amendments before they become a part of the constitution.

Homosexual activists have also filed lawsuits in Georgia, Kentucky and Oklahoma to overturn those states’ respective amendments.

The past year has seen a plethora of lawsuits filed concerning the issue of same-sex “marriage.” All total, nine states are defending their marriage laws in court against those seeking to legalize “gay marriage.” In addition, the Defense of Marriage Act — the federal law that protects states from being forced to recognize same-sex “marriage” — is being challenged in federal courts from California to Florida.

Pro-family leaders argue that a marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the only way to protect traditional marriage from the courts.

“The people of Louisiana are fortunate that their Supreme Court looked to the law –- and not to a liberal political agenda –- in rendering this decision,” Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family Action’s vice president of government and public policy, said in a statement. “But not all residents of all states are so fortunate — as the people of Massachusetts know all too well. That’s why a federal marriage amendment remains the only surefire way to prevent activist judges from rewriting centuries of tradition and law governing the institution of marriage.”
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit https://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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  • Michael Foust