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Lambda Legal Joins Appeal of Louisiana Marriage Ruling to 5th Circuit

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October 7, 2014
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Lambda Legal is joining the legal team representing a total of seven Louisiana same-sex couples and the Forum for Equality Louisiana, the state’s LGBT rights organization, in their appeal to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals of last month’s U.S. District Court ruling upholding Louisiana’s discriminatory marriage ban.

Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Kenneth D. Upton, Jr said:

Only one federal court since Windsor has concluded on the merits that the Constitution permits the government to exclude same-sex couples and their children from marriage. We are proud to join a strong legal team appealing this decision to secure equal dignity and respect for all Louisiana families. After dozens of well-reasoned state and federal district and appellate court rulings have come down over the past year striking down similar discriminatory bans nationwide, it is deeply distressing that the district court here came to a different conclusion. We look forward to working with co-counsel and these brave plaintiffs to overturn this decision on appeal.

SarahJane Brady, executive director, Forum for Equality Louisiana, said:

We are delighted to have Lambda Legal join us in this effort. Forum for Equality Louisiana and Lambda Legal have a long and successful history of working together, and we are delighted to have them as co-counsel on our case.

The case going up on appeal involves consolidated lawsuits filed in the past year: Robicheaux v. CaldwellRobicheaux v. George and Forum for Equality Louisiana, Inc. v. Barfield. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman issued his ruling upholding Louisiana’s marriage ban in a combined decision known as Robicheaux v, Caldwell, in early September.

Said Andrew Bond, who although married to his partner, Dr. Nick Van Sickels, has no legal rights to their daughter, as Nick is the sole name on her birth certificate:

The district court judge’s ruling reminded me how much we have left to fight for. To think my identity as my child's father remains something I must place an asterisk next to is demeaning and painful to accept. I love and support her just as any parent loves and supports their children, yet I continue to lack any state recognition of that fact. This ruling certainly did not calm my constant fears concerning my lack of legal standing as her parent, but it did clarify exactly who and what I am fighting for.

The plaintiffs in the combined appeal are:

Jonathan Robicheaux and Derek Penton of New Orleans, together since 2005 and married in Iowa in 2012; and Courtney and Nadine Blanchard of Lafourche Parish, married in Iowa in 2013 and raising a son together (represented by New Orleans attorney Richard G. Perque).

Robert Welles and Garth Beauregard of New Orleans, together for 24 years (represented by New Orleans attorney Scott J. Spivey of Landry & Spivey).

Forum for Equality Louisiana, the Louisiana statewide LGBT advocacy organization founded in 1989.

Jacqueline and Lauren Brettner of New Orleans, together since 2011, married in New York in 2012 and the parents of a baby girl born in 2013.

Henry Lambert and Carey Bond of New Orleans, together since 1974 and married in New York in 2011.

Andrew Bond and Nicholas Van Sickels of New Orleans, together since 2003, married in the District of Columbia in 2013 and the parents of a daughter.

L. Havard Scott and Sergio March Prieto of Shreveport, together since 1997 and married in Vermont in 2010.

Read the press release.