Judge Dismisses Challenge on Louisiana's Proposed Marriage Amendment

( [email protected] ) Aug 12, 2004 09:05 PM EDT

A Louisiana judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the language of a constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage that was scheduled to appear on the Sept. 18 ballot. Another judge has scheduled a hearing on August 13 for a second challenge.

If passed, the proposed amendment would write a same-sex “marriage” ban into the Louisiana Constitution by defining marriage

Both lawsuits were filed on August 6 by the homosexual group Forum for Equality seeking to stop voting on the proposed measure, three days after Missouri voters gained victory on a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

New Orleans Parish Civil District Judge Nadine Ramsey agreed with Assistant Attorney General Roy Mongrue that the first challenge, which was filed along with a backup lawsuit on August 6, should have been filed in the state’s capitol, Baton Rouge, since it named Secretary of State Fox McKeithen and the city of New Orleans as defendants.

Civil District Judge Pro Tempore Christopher Bruno scheduled the second challenge by the same group to be heard on August 13.

Randy Evans, attorney of Forum for Equality, representing three individual plaintiffs in the lawsuits, argued that the proposed amendment was illegally approved by the Legislature since language in the measure could be interpreted to ban same-sex civil unions and strip domestic partnership benefits to unmarried couples. New Orleans has recognized and provided benefits to domestic partnerships for around 10 years.

State Senator John Hainkel (R-New Orleans), a co-sponsor of the amendment, has called the lawsuits “silly” and assured the plaintiffs that the amendment would not affect private contracts between individuals or prohibit private companies from extending benefits to employees' same-sex partners.

Rep. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, one of the authors of the measure, believes the amendment has a good chance of being approved by state voters.

"The fact that the suit is filed certainly goes against the grain of the majority of the people in this state,” he said after the court hearing. “We feel like we'll probably get 85 percent of the people throughout the state to vote for this constitutional amendment.”