Upon the relief of pro-family groups across Louisiana, a state judge overturned an earlier ruling that blocked the Constitutional Marriage Amendment from appearing on the state’s September ballot, Monday, August 16, 2004.
In his decision, Louisiana judge Michael Caldwell heard arguments from the pro-gay group Forum for Equality, which contended that a ban on gay marriage would violate the Louisiana’s Constitution’s guarantee of individuals’ rights to enter into contracts and own property together; the marriage amendment would engrave onto the state constitution the phrase that marriage can be only between a man and woman only.
Cadwell rejected the argument, clarifying that such a challenge can be made only after an election is held. Consequently, he refused to order the amendment from the ballot.
According to the Associated Press, pro-gay groups have already said they would appeal, but will unlikely succeed since “the secretary of state is facing a deadline this week to get ballots to the printer.”
Cadwell’s decision comes only three days after the initial ruling made against the amendment. Last Friday, judge Christopher Bruno filed a temporary order blocking the amendment’s vote because September 18 is not a statewide election date, as the state constitution requires.
Pro-family groups criticized Bruno’s decision as a “hollow” victory for the amendment’s opponents since Bruno himself only temporarily suspended the ruling’s effect.
"We are going full speed ahead and expecting that the election will be held on Sept. 18 as planned, in spite of all the court actions," said Mike Johnson, legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund. "… The date of Sept. 18 is an appropriate date under the Louisiana election code. … So we're confident in the appeal."
The amendment, which passed the state legislature earlier this year, would protect the traditional definition of marriage by banning both same-sex "marriage" and Vermont-type civil unions.
Bruno will decide on Friday whether his order will be permanent. Until then, the only decision that is lefally effective is Caldwell’s verdict to let the voters decide on the amendment.
According to Jason Stern of the pro-family Louisiana Family Forum, the amendment will more than likely pass if it gets to the voters.
"[The reaction] has been positive," said Stern"… We're expecting a higher percentage than Missouri got."