FORUM FOR EQUALITY LOUISIANA EXPLORING ALL LEGAL OPTIONS TO FORCE STATE OFFICIALS TO FOLLOW THE SUPREME COURT DECISION
Forum for Equality Louisiana is exploring all legal options to force Gov. Bobby Jindal, Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and state officials to follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage.
“We are very disappointed to announce that as of right now, we are unaware of any Clerks of Court issuing marriage licenses. The Attorney General and the Louisiana Clerks of Court Association have both advised that they do not believe the Supreme Court ruling yet applies to the State of Louisiana as a technical matter. We believe that this advice ignores the clear command of the Supreme Court of the United States, and it is further evidence of the discrimination and continued harm we have fought for more than twenty-six years to correct,” said Chris Otten, chair of the Forum for Equality Louisiana, the organization that filed Louisiana’s same-sex marriage case.
“We are currently exploring all options with our legal team, and we will update you as soon as we have more information. The great news: the question is no longer if Louisiana will get marriage equality; the question is now WHEN. And we will not stop fighting until all sixty-four parishes obtain real equality under the law, as promised by the Supreme Court’s decision today.”
The Forum filed a formal letter to the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans asking the court to adopt the Supreme Court decision and rule in the Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas marriage case and direct officials to follow what is now the law of the land.
“We hope Gov. Jindal does not continue to be a roadblock on the road to equality that 37 states have already traveled. Louisiana’s same-sex couples have waited long enough, often at considerable expense to protect their relationships and families,” Otten said.
Forum for Equality Louisiana’s legal team at Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann L.L.C. and Lambda Legal is asking the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to immediately issue a ruling applying the Supreme Court ruling to the consolidated Louisiana lawsuit filed by the Forum and seven couples attacking Louisiana’s same-sex marriage ban, said Dalton Courson, one of the attorneys in the case.
After US District Court Judge Martin Feldman of New Orleans upheld Louisiana’s same-sex marriage ban, one of the few federal judges to do so, Forum for Equality Louisiana joined forces with Lambda Legal to appeal the decision to the Fifth Circuit. The three-judge appellate panel held oral arguments on January 9 in the Louisiana case, as well as similar cases from Mississippi and Texas. The appellate court has not yet ruled.
Robicheaux v. Caldwell is the consolidated appeal of Judge 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.
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 L.L.C.).
The legal team also includes, from Lambda Legal: Kenneth Upton, Susan Sommer, Camilla Taylor, Karen Loewy, Paul Castillo and Omar Gonzalez-Pagan.
Forum for Equality Louisiana is Louisiana’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) human rights organization dedicated to the establishment of a society free from discrimination and to the support of good government.
The Forum has set up a telephone for same-sex couples to phone in experiences in the parishes. The number is 225-323-8380. They may also go to the Forum’s web site, http://www.forumforequality.org. We will investigate all complaints,” Mary Griggs said.