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Federal challenge to Louisiana’s anti-gay marriage laws dismissed

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A case challenging Louisiana’s same-sex marriage ban and non-recognition of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere has been dismissed by a federal judge. The same-sex couples challenging the ban filed the suit against the state’s attorney general. The attorney general then filed motions: one to dismiss the case for being filed in the wrong place (or to move it somewhere else), and another arguing the case should be dismissed based on Eleventh Amendment immunity.

The court ultimately accepted the Eleventh Amendment argument (that a person acting under state law in their official capacities can’t be sued, unless the facts fit a narrow exception where the state actor has a role in enforcing the law being challenged), writing that, “[b]ecause plaintiffs, as the record stands, have made no effort or attempt to seek official recognition of their same-sex marriages by the State of Louisiana, the Attorney General submits he lacks the requisite connection with the enforcement” of the ban.

Essentially, the court believes the plaintiffs didn’t file the lawsuit against a defendant who is actually responsible for enforcing the law, because “[t]he Attorney General’s sweeping responsibility to enforce the laws of the State of Louisiana” is too unspecific.

The Washington Blade reports that the plaintiffs will amend the lawsuit. The Secretary of the State Department of Revenue will be named as the defendant, but if the district court doesn’t accept the new filing, other actions will be taken:

A federal court in Louisiana has dismissed a lawsuit seeking marriage equality on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction, although attorneys say they’ll amend the complaint to continue the litigation.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, a Reagan appointee, dismissed the lawsuit, known as Robicheaux v. Caldwell, on Wednesday because plaintiffs named only Attorney General James Caldwell as a defendant and he hasn’t denied them the recognition of their marriage.
“On Monday, pending no objection from the attorney general, Mr. Spivey will seek to amend the suit, naming Secretary Tim Barfield of the State Department of Revenue as the defendant,” Hartman said. “Failing acceptance of that amendment or denial of that motion, Mr. Spivey will file an appeal with the Fifth Circuit.”

A marriage equality case filed in state court is currently on appeal.

Thanks to Kathleen Perrin for this filing


  • 1. davep  |  December 2, 2013 at 10:13 am

    I'm surprised there's no article here this morning about the same sex marriages starting in Hawaii this morning. Come on EoT, where's the good news? We've earned it!

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    Look again. Remember Hawaii several hours behind.

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    Yup, just saw it. Thanks!

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