This is a brief update on the status of our lawsuit.
As you have probably heard, Judge Feldman heard oral arguments yesterday in the marriage equality lawsuit we filed along with six other plaintiff couples, seeking to force Louisiana to recognize otherwise valid, out-of-state same-sex marriages. A seventh couple sued to force Louisiana to issue marriage licenses, but the court announced several months ago that it wanted to resolve the marriage recognition issue before getting into the marriage creation issue.
The arguments yesterday were excellent, and Judge Feldman asked pointed, carefully considered questions to both sides. We could not be happier with the level of preparation both of our legal team and of the court – it is always best to have a well-prepared judge, particularly when one is confident, as we are, of one’s legal correctness.
At the end of the arguments, as expected, the court announced that it would not issue a ruling immediately (it is very rare for a federal judge to “rule from the bench”). However, the Judge also announced that he wants to resolve all issues all at once, rather than issue multiple rulings. As such, he has requested that the parties submit some additional written arguments by July 16, 2014 addressing whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, as well as the First Amendment claim. You may recall that in our lawsuit, we argued that Louisiana, by forcing same-sex married couples to check “single” on state tax returns, is compelling couples to effectively lie and this violates their rights to free speech.
At this point, it is not clear whether there will be additional oral arguments in court, nor do we have a firm timeline for when a final decision will be rendered, though we would expect a ruling by the end of the summer or the beginning of fall.
We wanted to give you this update on our legal efforts to keep you all apprised of what your support has gotten you. We always strive to get you information as soon as we can, but our primary concern was in getting the right information out, as opposed to the early story. Rest assured that if you hear something from the media first, the reason for that is because our media team’s focus first and foremost is getting you the full, accurate picture.
We have always said this would be a long journey, and we stand by that; even after the court rules, there will doubtless be appeals, and as we saw yesterday with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals tossing out Utah’s same-sex marriage ban (along with an Indiana district court), there are new legal developments almost every day. But thanks to your support, we will continue this fight however long it takes, and we will not stop until there is equality for all.
Yours in Equality,
Forum for Equality Louisiana Chair-Elect and Legal Committee Chairman
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