Constitutional Law

Federal judge upholds Louisiana ban on gay marriage, sees rational basis in democratic process

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A federal judge in New Orleans has upheld Louisiana’s ban on gay marriage in an opinion that applied rational-basis scrutiny.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman ruled on Wednesday, report BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post and the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He is the first federal judge to uphold a gay-marriage ban since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that denies federal benefits to same-sex married couples in June 2013 in United States v. Windsor, the stories say.

Louisiana law and its constitution bar same-sex marriage and refuse to recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere.

“The state of Louisiana has a legitimate interest under a rational basis standard of review for addressing the meaning of marriage through the democratic process,” Feldman wrote. He found there is no fundamental right to same-sex marriage and said the Louisiana gay-marriage ban did not violate equal protection or due process guarantees.

The judge cited a state interest in linking children to an intact family formed by biological parents. “Of even more consequence, in this court’s judgment,” Feldman wrote, “defendants assert a legitimate state interest in safeguarding that fundamental social change, in this instance, is better cultivated through democratic consensus.”

“The court is persuaded that a meaning of what is marriage that has endured in history for thousands of years, and prevails in a majority of states today, is not universally irrational on the constitutional grid,” Feldman wrote.

Feldman said the Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor, which struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, “does little more than give both sides in this case something to hope for.” Windsor “starkly avoids mention of heightened scrutiny,” Feldman said, and the plaintiffs’ position that the case used at least intermediate scrutiny “seems like intellectual anarchy.”

The plaintiffs are planning to appeal.

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