When I became chair of Forum for Equality Louisiana, I dedicated myself to do whatever it took to ensure marriage equality as well as protections in jobs, housing and public accommodations for the LGBT community.
We were elated at the Supreme Court order, then disheartened when our elected officials left Louisiana the only state in the nation where no licenses were being issued.
After the close of business Friday, with not even one parish clerk issuing licenses, we drafted and sent a letter to the Louisiana Clerks of Court Association, putting the association and the clerks on notice that they were depriving same-sex couples of the now fundamental constitutional right to marry and were subject to both official and personal liability. We also promised that Forum for Equality Louisiana would investigate all complaints beginning Monday morning. Click here to view the letter we sent.
Within an hour after Forum for Equality released the letter to the media statewide, Jefferson Parish’s Clerk of Court began issuing marriage licenses. We were able to facilitate and participate in the first same-sex marriage in the state! Michael Robinson and Earl Benjamin’s wedding was a deeply emotional ceremony, indeed a historic moment. View the the ceremony on WWLTV.com.
The dominos began following throughout the day as Clerks dropped their opposition. The Clerks of Court Association abruptly reversed itself, advising all clerks to immediately issue marriage licenses. As I write this, we have reports that almost all parishes are issuing licenses to all couples that apply, and we are working ensure that all parishes do. You can find the list of parishes issuing licenses here.
With the dust barely settled, we then joined the ACLU and six individual plaintiffs Tuesday in suing Governor Jindal for violating the Louisiana Constitution with his “Marriage and Conscience” executive order. Jindal’s unconstitutional order was issued hours after House Bill 707, which would have permitted discrimination in the name of religious belief, was killed 10-2 in a House committee. Forum for Equality actively fought against this bill with its coalition partners, including HRC and the ACLU. Click here to see a copy of the ACLU complaint.
We’re engaged in (and winning!) battles on more fronts than we have ever fought before! But none of this is possible without your continued support. WIll you join me today in investing in equality? The past few days have shown just a glimpse of what is possible – please join me now in saying NO to the state’s divisive policies and YES to a more inclusive and equal state! Please make a donation from the heart, and help build a state of equality here in Louisiana.
Yours in Equality,
Chair, Forum for Equality Louisiana