Forum for Equality Louisiana Applaudes Lafayette Decision

The Forum for Equality Louisiana congratulates Lafayette Judge Edward Rubin’s decision overturning Louisiana’s constitutional and statutory discrimination against the rights of same-sex couples.

“We think the decision is the correct one,” said Lesli Harris of the New Orleans law firm of Stone Pigman that represents Forum for Equality Louisiana’s separate lawsuit brought in federal court and now being appealed after an adverse decision by US District Judge Martin Feldman on many of the same issues.

Harris specifically cited the decision’s reliance on the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution, which are also at issue in Forum for Equality Louisiana’s appeal that could move quickly before the 5th Circuit US Court of Appeals.

“We also think it properly relied upon the civil rights cases such as Loving v. Virginia,” Harris said. In the Loving case, the US Supreme Court in 1967 overturned laws prohibiting interracial marriages.

Judge Rubin, who is an African-American, made a lengthy comparison of Louisiana’s discriminatory laws against the lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender community to the state’s now moot interracial prohibitions and Jim Crow laws that segregated blacks and whites. The case was brought by plaintiffs Angela Costanza and Chastity Brewer, who were married in California and sought recognition of adoption and tax rights in Louisiana, where they reside.

“Lest we forget, there was a time in America’s history when gays and lesbians were not permitted to even associate in public. Many in this country held a deep seated hatred for the lifestyle of gays, lesbians, bisexuals etc., and with that hatred carried numerous arrests and imprisonment for those who chose a different lifestyle than what was ‘traditionally’ recognized,” Rubin wrote. “We are past that now, but when it comes to marriage between persons of the same sex, the nation is moving towards acceptance that years ago would have never been contemplated.”

“There are those who might argue that gays and lesbians can be treated differently, and yet be considered to be equal to the rest of Americans,” Rubin wrote, citing the 1896 Louisiana case, Plessy v. Ferguson. “Plessy stood for the proposition that there could be separate but equal treatment of the two races. Fortunately for this country, the US Supreme Court was presented with (Brown v. the Board of Education), which overruled any doctrine that held separate but equal,” Rubin wrote.

Rubin went on to cite court rulings that overturned bans on racially-mixed marriages, including the US Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia.

“The court does not believe that the historical background of Loving is so different from the historical background underlying states’ bans on same-sex marriage,” Rubin wrote. “One cannot look at Loving without recognizing that it was about racism as well as a couple’s decision to assert their right to choose whom to marry.”

Mary Griggs, chair of Forum for Equality Louisiana, expressed confidence that Forum will be able to overturn U.S. Judge Feldman’s ruling, which is only one of some 30 court rulings that extend civil rights to the LGBT community. “We don’t want special rights,” Griggs said. “We want equal rights under the law. That’s all.”

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Breaking News!

We have just received breaking news that a state court judge in Lafayette Parish has ruled that Louisiana’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. We applaud the judge for correctly deciding this issue for Louisiana families, and we will update you as more details are released.

http://www.theind.com/news/indreporter/18990-go-ahead-ed-make-my-day

On Monday State District Judge Ed Rubin ruled that the state’s law banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional because it violates the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment and the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution.

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A Decade of Discrimination in Louisiana

Ten years ago this week, as Lousianans hunkered down in anticipation of Hurricane Ivan, lesbians and gays geared up for a storm that could do lasting damage to our community.

For it was on September 18, 2004, that Constitutional Amendment One was passed by voters. It stated, “Marriage in the state of Louisiana shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.”

Across America that election year, marriage equality was a hot-button topic wielded by fervent opponents as a wedge issue to drive voters to the polls. In February 2004, President George W. Bush called on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to protect “the most fundamental institution of civilization.”

On September 18, only 27.5% of state voters cast ballots but the majority voted to enshrine discrimination in our state’s constitution.

Fortunately that week, Hurricane Ivan brushed Louisiana with minimal effects. But the storm of controversy over marriage equality left an ugly stain on the state that remains to this day.

Earlier this month, US District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans ruled against Forum for Equality Louisiana in its lawsuit seeking marriage rights for same-sex couples, writing that a person’s sexual orientation was one of several “lifestyle choices.” The ruling flies in the face of same-sex marriage victories in more than 20+courts over the past year.

Forum for Equality has begun the process to appeal that ruling. We need your help to continue the expensive and time-consuming legal fight for the rights you deserve. By joining us and making your donation, you can help ensure that Louisiana LGBT rights group will battle opposition at every corner.

With Equality for All,

John Denison
Chair, Forum for Equality Foundation

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FORUM FOR EQUALITY LOUISIANA APPLAUDS 7th CIRCUIT DECISION

7thThe Forum for Equality Louisiana applauds the unanimous decision of the U.S. 7th Circuit, Court of Appeals declaring same-sex marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana unconstitutional.

“At this point, 22 decisions around the nation have supported marriage equality, which makes us confident we will prevail in our appeal of the judge’s ruling in Louisiana,” said SarahJane Brady, executive director of the Forum for Equality Louisiana.

“The Louisiana decision by U.S. Judge Martin Feldman is the only federal court ruling that gay marriages can be ignored by state governments,” said Mary Griggs, chair of the Forum for Equality Louisiana. “We are beyond counting on all our fingers and toes.”

Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann, counsel for the Forum for Equality Louisiana, have already filed a notice of appeal to the 5th Circuit, Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Chris Otten, Forum chair-elect and chair of its lawyer’s committee, noted that the arguments against same-sex marriage in Louisiana mirrored the arguments made by Wisconsin and Indiana.

“The 7th Circuit rejected the very arguments that Louisiana put forth in defending its same-sex marriage ban,” Otten said. “We agree that Louisiana families are better off when the state recognizes same-sex marriages, and we will continue fighting until we see that day.”

Otten pointed to key sentences in the 7th Circuit opinion written by Judge Richard Posner.

“More than unsupported conjecture that same-sex marriage will harm heterosexual marriage or children or any other valid and important interest of a state is necessary to justify discrimination on the base of sexual orientation,” Posner wrote. “As we have been at pains to explain, the grounds advanced by Indiana and Wisconsin for their discriminatory policies are not only conjectural, they are totally implausible.”

 

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Love is Appealing!

love conquers allYou may have heard the news of the ruling on marriage equality here in Louisiana this morning. I want you to know that we will vigorously appeal the ruling that refuses to strike down Louisiana’s ban of same-sex marriages as unconstitutional and grant full rights and benefits to its same-sex couples who were legally married in other states.

Forum for Equality joins with the ALCU, Human Rights Campaign, LGBT Community Center and PFLAG New Orleans for the Decision Day Rally tonight. We encourage and welcome everyone to join with us at the Pedestrian Mall in Jackson Square this evening at 5:30PM. Invite along your friends, neighbors, allies and co-workers! Don’t forget your signs, banners, and flags!

Our appreciation and gratitude to Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann for their phenomenal dedication to this case and as they move their fight forward to the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. We are confident the courts will ultimately support the claims that same-sex couples will be accepted as equal citizens.

We always anticipated it would be a difficult fight to have same-sex marriages recognized in Louisiana. The Constitution demands equal protection to all citizens, including the Louisiana LGBT community. It is time for marriage equality, even in the deep South.

There are over 20 federal decisions on our side of this issue from courts across the nation, and only this federal ruling against same-sex marriage. We are going to move forward to bring about simple justice and equality. Even in Louisiana, love is love.

Stand with Forum for Equality as we continue our fight for fairness by making a donation today. Your support strengthens our ability to continue to make a difference in protecting and advancing basic human rights in Louisiana.

We will not stop; we can’t.

Equality for All,
SarahJane Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

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Rally With Us in Jackson Square!

love conquers allForum for Equality joins with the ALCU, Human Right Campaign, LGBT Community Center and PFLAG New Orleans to rally against the marriage equality US District Court ruling. We encourage and welcome everyone to join with us at Jackson Square this evening at 5:30PM.

The ruling today upheld the unconstitutional ban on recognizing loving and committed same-sex couples. Forum for Equality and the courageous couples who have lead this battle will not stop! We will take this fight all the way to the Supreme Court! We will not let one decision turn back the tide of victories because we stand on the right side of history. Rally with Forum for Equality, ALCU, HRC, LGBTCC and PFLAG today to show Louisiana that we are committed to standing for love and fairness for all.

WHEN: Today, @ 5:30PM
WHERE: Pedestrian Mall, Jackson Square
New Orleans, LA 70130
(In front of St. Louis Cathedral)

Come with your partners, wives and husbands! Bring the entire family! Invite along your friends, neighbors, allies and co-workers! Don’t forget your signs, banners, and flags!

Press, organizations, and individual community members are all encouraged to attend.

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First Annual Windsor-Spyer BBQ

BBQinvitation 4x6You are invited to join us for the First Annual Windsor-Spyer BBQ

Saturday, September 6, 2014
6:00-9:00PM

Hosted by the Forum for Equality
Women’s Outreach Committee
at the home of Cathy Fournier
4512 Reich Street, Metairie, LA 70006

Food and Beverages will be provided.

RSVP to Cathy 504-457-1549
or Susan 504-443-3090
by Saturday, August 30th

Facebook Invite: https://www.facebook.com/events/331739573658883/

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