Lambda Legal & Forum for Equality Ask High Court to Review Louisiana Marriage Case

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Lambda Legal and the lawyers representing Forum for Equality Louisiana and seven same-sex Louisiana couples today asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review September’s U.S. District Court ruling upholding Louisiana’s discriminatory marriage ban. The groups are seeking U.S. Supreme Court review in advance of the hearing in the case, Robicheaux v. Caldwell, before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals scheduled for January.

Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Kenneth D. Upton, Jr. said:

The ruling from the lower court in this case is a time-warped reading of the Constitution and neglects developments in the law, including since the Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor. We have seen a blizzard of well-reasoned rulings in recent months holding similarly discriminatory bans unconstitutional, including rulings out of the Fourth, Seventh, Ninth and Tenth Circuits Courts of Appeal. We are asking for the Supreme Court’s review now while it is considering the Sixth Circuit decision because together these cases present the full gamut of aberrant arguments supporting these discriminatory bans, and, in Louisiana specifically, present in one state a case covering both the right of same-sex couples to marry, and for legally married same-sex couples to have those marriages recognized. The longer same-sex couples are forced to live in a country divided by where their families are respected and where they aren’t the more apparent the injustice will become—and that clarity will come at a price for thousands of families.

Read more about the case here.

Forum for Equality Louisiana Executive Director SarahJane Brady said that, since the Supreme Court’s Windsor ruling last summer:

Dozens of federal courts have been nearly unanimous: these hateful, politically motivated marriage bans have no place in our country—and they will soon end up in the dustbin of history where they belong. After the Sixth Circuit’s ruling upholding state bans on same sex marriages, we determined there is too much at stake in Louisiana and other states without marriage equality to wait on the appeals process to play out, potentially delaying justice for same-sex couples. [pullquote]Dozens of federal courts have been nearly unanimous: these hateful, politically motivated marriage bans have no place in our country—and they will soon end up in the dustbin of history where they belong. —Equality Louisiana Executive Director SarahJane Brady[/pullquote]

Today’s filing is called a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari before Judgment and, while not all that common, can be granted upon a showing that the case is of such imperative public importance as to justify bypassing the normal appeals process in the Circuit Court of Appeal. Early last month, Lambda Legal joined the legal team representing a total of seven Louisiana same-sex couples and the Forum for Equality Louisiana, the state’s LGBT rights organization, in their appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman’s September ruling upholding Louisiana’s discriminatory marriage ban. The case going up on appeal involves consolidated lawsuits filed in the past year: Robicheaux v. CaldwellRobicheaux v. George and Forum for Equality Louisiana, Inc. v. Barfield.

The plaintiffs in the combined appeal are:

Jonathan Robicheaux and Derek Penton of New Orleans, together since 2005 and married in Iowa in 2012; and Courtney and Nadine Blanchard of Lafourche Parish, married in Iowa in 2013 and raising a son together (represented by New Orleans attorney Richard G. Perque);

Robert Welles and Garth Beauregard of New Orleans, together for 24 years (represented by New Orleans attorney Scott J. Spivey of Landry & Spivey);

Forum for Equality Louisiana, the Louisiana statewide LGBT advocacy organization founded in 1989; Jacqueline and Lauren Brettner of New Orleans, together since 2011, married in New York in 2012 and the parents of a baby girl born in 2013; Henry Lambert and Carey Bond of New Orleans, together since 1974 and married in New York in 2011; Andrew Bond and Nicholas Van Sickels of New Orleans, together since 2003, married in the District of Columbia in 2013 and the parents of a daughter; and L. Havard Scott and Sergio March Prieto of Shreveport, together since 1997 and married in Vermont in 2010 (represented by J. Dalton Courson, Lesli D. Harris, John Landis, Brooke Tigchelaar and Maurine Wall of the New Orleans firm Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann LLC).

The legal team includes, from Lambda Legal: Kenneth Upton, Susan Sommer, Camilla Taylor, Karen Loewy, Paul Castillo and Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, as co-counsel with J. Dalton Courson and Lesli D. Harris and their team at Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann LLC; Scott J. Spivey of Landry & Spivey; and Richard G. Perque.

Read the press release here.

[From a News Release]

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