LOUISIANA: New Marriage Lawsuit Filed

Via press release from the Forum For Equality Louisiana:

Forum for Equality Louisiana, the statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights organization, together with four couples today filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s constitutional ban on recognizing same-sex marriages legally performed outside the state. The lawsuit charges that Louisiana’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages violates the US constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. The lawsuit also asserts that state officials infringe the couples’ First Amendment rights by requiring them to claim that they are unmarried on state tax returns. The prestigious New Orleans law firm of Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann filed the suit in US District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, on behalf of Forum for Equality Louisiana and four couples who are members of the organization.

Named as defendants are state Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield and Registrar Devin George. The couples are Jacqueline and Lauren Brettner from New Orleans, Nicholas Van Sickels and Andrew Bond from New Orleans, Henry Lambert and Carey Bond from New Orleans, and Havard Scott and Sergio March Prieto from Shreveport. The basis of the equal protection violation claim is that Louisiana recognizes marriages legally performed elsewhere, including marriages that cannot be entered into inside the state, such as marriages between first cousins or common-law marriages. Louisiana singles out only same-sex marriages for unequal treatment, a violation of the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

RELATED: In December 2013, a federal judge dismissed an earlier marriage lawsuit against the state of Louisiana, ruling that the plaintiffs had only named the state attorney general and that he had not personally rejected their marriage demand. The legal team in that case said at the time that they will amend their suit or file an appeal with the Fifth Circuit Court.