Federal Judge Upholds Louisiana Ban on Gay Marriage, Says 'Traditional Authority' Must Trump 'Lifestyle Choices'


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In a decision issued today in the case of Robicheaux v. Caldwell, Judge Martin Feldman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana ruled that Louisiana's ban on gay marriage does not violate the U.S. Constitution and in fact is a rational means of advancing the state's "traditional authority" to regulate marriage. To recognize gay Americans as a class of citizens entitled to heightened judicial protection in equal protection cases, Judge Feldman declared, "would distort precedent and demean the democratic process."

Judge Feldman's ruling draws heavily on the principles of judicial deference, which hold that the courts should rarely invalidate the judgment of the elected branches of government and should instead grant lawmakers the benefit of the doubt in most legal disputes. "This national same-sex marriage struggle," he wrote, "animates a clash between convictions regarding the value of state decisions reached by way of the democratic process as contrasted with personal, genuine, and sincere lifestyle choices recognition." According to Judge Feldman, gay marriage advocates should stop pressing their case in court and turn instead to achieving social change "through democratic consensus."

Today's ruling is the first federal court decision against gay marriage since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. An appeal is expected.