Federal Judge Issues Final Order Striking Down Louisiana’s Marriage Ban

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July 2, 2015

“With this order, Governor Jindal has run out of excuses for delaying recognition of same-sex couples’ right to get married and have their marriages recognized. Enough is enough.”

(New Orleans, LA, July 2, 2015) – U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman today complied with an order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and issued a final judgment in favor of the plaintiffs in Robicheaux v. Caldwell striking down Louisiana’s discriminatory marriage ban. The Fifth Circuit yesterday reversed Judge Feldman’s earlier ruling upholding the ban and ordered him to issue the judgment by July 17.

The flurry of activity in the case followed Friday’s historic ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges declaring all state marriage bans denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry or have their marriage recognized violated the U.S. Constitution. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal stated after the Supreme Court ruling that he would await the Fifth Circuit ruling in Robicheaux before ordering state agencies to comply. However, after the Fifth Circuit did rule, Gov. Jindal stated he would await Judge Feldman’s order.

Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Kenneth D. Upton issued the following statement:

““With this order, Governor Jindal has run out of excuses for delaying recognition of same-sex couples’ right to get married and have their marriages recognized. Enough is enough. After the Supreme Court decision Friday, it was a foregone conclusion that the Fifth Circuit would reverse Judge Feldman. We were thrilled that the Fifth Circuit moved so quickly to do so, and that should have been that. There never was, and certainly no longer remains, any legal or moral justification for forcing same-sex couples in Louisiana to wait any longer to have their love and commitment recognized by the state. Further delay by Governor Jindal not only is cruel and capricious, but places him in contempt of court. One of our plaintiffs is facing serious health concerns, and other same-sex couples throughout Louisiana may be facing urgent needs for the security and protections that marriage provides.

“Once again, we call on Governor Jindal to keep his promise and order state agencies to comply fully with their obligations,” Upton continued.  “Governor Jindal, keep your word.”

Robicheaux v. Caldwell was one of three marriage cases argued January 9, 2015, before the Fifth Circuit. The other cases were DeLeon v. Perry, a Texas case brought by private counsel from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant, a Mississippi case brought by private counsel from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and McDuff & Byrd. The Texas and Mississippi appeals were filed by public officials in both states after two U.S. District Courts struck down those states’ marriage bans. Robicheaux, however, was an appeal of a rare U.S. District Court ruling upholding a discriminatory ban.

Robicheaux v. Caldwell is the consolidated appeal of U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman’s combined decision in three lawsuits filed in the past year: Robicheaux v. Caldwell, Robicheaux v. George and Forum For Equality Louisiana, Inc. v. Barfield. Judge Feldman issued his ruling upholding Louisiana’s discriminatory ban in early September. Lambda Legal joined the legal team in early October.

Read the ruling here: http://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/robicheaux_la_20150701_opinion

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 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; and L. Havard Scott III and Sergio March Prieto of Shreveport, together since 1997 and married in Vermont in 2010 (represented by J. Dalton Courson, Lesli D. Harris, John Landis, Brooke Tigchelaar and Maurine Wall of the New Orleans firm Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann LLC). 

The legal team also includes, from Lambda Legal: Kenneth Upton, Susan Sommer, Camilla Taylor, Karen Loewy, Paul Castillo and Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, as co-counsel with J. Dalton Courson and Lesli D. Harris and their team at Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann LLC; Scott J. Spivey of Landry & Spivey; and Richard G. Perque.er people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

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Contact Info

Press contact: Tom Warnke (Lambda Legal), Cell: 213-841-4503: Email: twarnke@lambdalegal.org

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