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La. judge rules against marriage amend., decision appealed

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–A vote in Louisiana on a state constitutional marriage amendment is in doubt after a state judge ruled Aug. 13 that it cannot appear on the September ballot.

Pro-family groups, though, remain confident that citizens will be able to vote on the amendment.

Judge Christopher Bruno ruled that the amendment cannot go before voters Sept. 18 as scheduled because the date is not a statewide election, as he said the state constitution requires.

Bruno temporary suspended the effect of his ruling, allowing an appeal to the Louisiana Supreme Court. Amendment opponents have filed three other lawsuits seeking to keep the amendment off the ballot and have lost in two of them. Both are being appealed.

Mike Johnson, legal counsel with the pro-family group Alliance Defense Fund, called Bruno’s ruling a “hollow” victory for amendment opponents. Because Bruno temporarily suspended the ruling’s effect, Johnson said, it has no impact until the state supreme court decides to act on it. ADF is involved in defending the amendment.

“We are going full speed ahead and expecting that the election will be held on Sept. 18 as planned, in spite of all the court actions,” Johnson told Baptist Press. “… The date of Sept. 18 is an appropriate date under the Louisiana election code. … So we’re confident in the appeal.”

The Louisiana secretary of state printed the ballots Aug. 16 with the amendment language included, Johnson said. If the state supreme court subsequently rules against the amendment, voters would not have the option of voting on it.

The amendment, which made it on the ballot after passing the state legislature earlier this year, would protect the traditional definition of marriage by banning both same-sex “marriage” and Vermont-type civil unions.

The legal strategy in Louisiana mirrors that in other states. In Ohio, same-sex “marriage” advocates are fighting to keep an amendment off the November ballot after pro-family groups there gathered 391,000 signatures to place an amendment on the ballot — well over the 323,000 required. A similar strategy was attempted in Oregon, but pro-family groups won there and citizens will have their say in November.

Including Louisiana, as many as 12 states could vote on marriage amendments this year. A 13th state, Missouri, voted on an amendment in early August and passed it with 71 percent of the vote.

Jason Stern of the Louisiana Family Forum said that pro-family groups are confident the amendment will pass if it makes it to voters.

“[The reaction] has been positive,” he told Baptist Press. “… We’re expecting a higher percentage than Missouri got.”
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit

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  • Michael Foust