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Developing story: Louisiana judge rules that state’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Louisiana state sealThere’s not much to go on yet, but a state judge in Louisiana has apparently ruled that the same-sex marriage ban in the state is unconstitutional.

This ruling is contrary to a recent one in federal district court in the state; there, the ban was upheld.

The case is In Re Costanza and Brewer.

UPDATE: According to reports, the opinion isn’t expected to be released until Tuesday.

EqualityOnTrial will have more on this developing story.


  • 1. Rik_SD  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    The linked article has some real prize-winning writing:

    "Judge ruled regarding same-sex marriage

    Updated: Sep 22, 2014 12:50 PM PDT
    By Hope Ford – email

    Developing story: Judge Edward Rubin ruled the same-sex law prohibiting marriage is unconstitutional in three areas:

    1. Due process clause of 14th amendment.
    2. Equal protection clause of 14th amendment.
    3. Full faith and credit clause of the constitution.
    Attorneys believe the ruling might be appealed."

    Between the vague headline and the "same-sex law prohibiting marriage" lol

  • 2. Scottie Thomaston  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    I know right? Head scratchingly weird.

  • 3. Rik_SD  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    and attorneys believe the ruling might be appealed… um, duh. lol

  • 4. Mike_Baltimore  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    If this were appealable in the 9CA (with the Circuit having a higher standard for appealing ME cases), I might believe attorneys are considering an appeal.

    However, this is not in the 9CA, and it's in state court.

  • 5. franklinsewell  |  September 22, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    The Louisiana state atty general is the one who is appealing the decision.

  • 6. Mike_Baltimore  |  September 22, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    I presume the AG of any state is required to be an attorney licensed to practice in the state, and that there are several attorneys (also so licensed) in the office of the AG.

    So when the statement is "attorneys believe the ruling might be appealed", do you have any evidence that it won't?

    And for Federal cases, Louisiana is NOT in the 9CA, but the 5CA. And the case is in state court, not Federal. So what, exactly, did I say incorrectly?

    And did I say who would appeal? (Not that I can see.)

  • 7. ragefirewolf  |  September 22, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Why would Louisiana state attorneys in your hypothetical "other circuit" scenario appeal in an environment where their appeal would be even less likely to be successful – that's what I don't understand…especially considering a state in that exact position, Nevada, did the opposite?

  • 8. RQO  |  September 22, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    It's Louisiana. Think Mr. Haney in Green Acres, two-headed calves, and a jovial, very drunken, debate, over anything.

  • 9. BillinNO  |  September 23, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    This is hate speech . You are maligning everyone in Louisiana, including the plaintiffs and all of us who work hard to improve our state. Down voted and reported, dammit.

  • 10. Rik_SD  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Also is this the first time we have had a ruling on FF&C?

  • 11. ragefirewolf  |  September 22, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    I was wondering the same thing…

  • 12. Mike_Baltimore  |  September 24, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    I'm quite certain it has been brought up in some cases and/or amicus briefs, but I can't remember a ruling including it.

  • 13. Ragavendran  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    This judge is running for re-election this year:

  • 14. JayJonson  |  September 22, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    He is running unopposed. (However, after this ruling, I would not be surprised to learn that a write-in campaign organized by the Roman Catholic Church has been launched against him.)

  • 15. robbyinflorida  |  September 22, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Or a write-in campaign organized by Tony Perkins, he lives in Baton Rouge.

  • 16. JayJonson  |  September 23, 2014 at 6:43 am

    In Louisiana, the Roman Catholic Church and Tony Perkins and the Baptists are in complete agreement. The Archdiocese of Lafayette controls the Acadiana parishes.

  • 17. Zack12  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Nice to see a judge who isn't so bigoted in LA ruling on this one!

  • 18. ragefirewolf  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    "Developing" is right! I can't get much detail about it yet. Anyone else? Have we seen the written ruling yet?!*

    *Correction, Freedom To Marry has more case details here:

  • 19. Scottie Thomaston  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    No ruling yet. My understanding is it's from family court, and certain people have to sign off on whether to release it publicly.

  • 20. ragefirewolf  |  September 22, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Oh…that's intriguing. Family court, hmm.

    As an aside, Scottie, what do you have that says it's a family court? Are you able to share it?

  • 21. robbyinflorida  |  September 22, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Family Court? Well, that's interesting. The 'Family Research Council' must be having a seizure and Brian Brown is having a spasm because he wants the states to decide.

  • 22. franklinsewell  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Ragefire … I don't think the cases outlined on the freedomtomarry page are the same ones.

  • 23. ragefirewolf  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    It's confusing because of the poor writing. That's why I'm not sure. The first section does have the same name as the case we're talking about though.

  • 24. Mike_Baltimore  |  September 22, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    A few more details of what the case is about, but not very much additional clarification of the ruling, IMO.

  • 25. franklinsewell  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Not on topic: Today, the 9th circuit issued an unpublished memorandum on a case argued and submitted on September 8.

  • 26. ragefirewolf  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Any more detail than that?! A link or something?

  • 27. franklinsewell  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:55 pm

  • 28. ragefirewolf  |  September 22, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Oh. You weren't kidding when you said it wasn't topical. Haha.

  • 29. ragefirewolf  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    The Freedom to Marry page is a mess, so here's my take: this is an state appeals court ruling on what was initially a California-based marriage recognition and adoption case that lost in a lower state court. Not sure if I got that right..

  • 30. franklinsewell  |  September 22, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Yes … freedom to marry page is a big mess.

  • 31. franklinsewell  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Judge Rubin serves in the 15th Judicial District Court, which serves Acadia, Vermillion, and Lafayette parishes. These parishes, while not the most conservative, are more conservative than the East Baton Rouge and Orleans parishes.

    He went to high school in Lafayette parish, and received both his undergraduate and law degrees from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge.

  • 32. ragefirewolf  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Is the 15th Judicial District Court an appeals court or a court of first resort?

  • 33. franklinsewell  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    In the Louisiana court structure there are 5 courts of appeal, 43 district courts, 5 family or juvenile courts, 49 city courts and 3 parish courts.

    Along with most other states, Louisiana has established the intermediate courts of appeal between the district courts and the supreme court. These courts guarantee the right to have almost any trial court decision reviewed by a higher court. Their appellate jurisdiction extends to virtually to all civil and criminal cases triable by a jury, except for those few case which are directly appealable to the Supreme Court.

    The trial court of general jurisdiction in Louisiana is the district court. District courts generally have authority to handle all civil and criminal cases. Civil cases involve actions to enforce, correct or protect private rights. In general civil cases include all types of actions other than criminal proceedings. In a criminal proceeding a person is charged with a crime and brought to trial and either found guilty or not guilty. The purpose of a criminal case is to punish the person who violates criminal laws.

    The juvenile courts have exclusive jurisdiction over delinquency cases involving persons under 17 years of age, with the exception of some felony offenses for which 15 or 16 year olds can be bound over to the district courts. Juvenile courts also handle all adoption proceedings of children under the age of 17. Similarly, family courts have jurisdiction over all family matters ranging from delinquency proceedings to divorce and child custody proceedings.

    The city courts are courts of record. This means that their decisions are reviewed on appeal on the record, as opposed to being tried anew in a higher court. City courts generally exercise concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in civil cases where the amount in controversy does not exceed $15,000. In criminal matters, they generally have jurisdiction over ordinance violations and misdemeanor violations of state law. City judges also handle a large number of traffic cases.

    Louisiana's 3 parish courts are distinguishable from city courts only in that they are always staffed by full-time judges and their jurisdiction is a bit broader. Parish courts exercise jurisdiction in civil cases worth up to $10,000 and criminal cases punishable by fines of $1,000 or less, or imprisonment of six months or less. Cases are appealable from the parish courts directly to the courts of appeal.

    A total of 380 judges preside over these Louisiana courts.

  • 34. JayJonson  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    A little more info here:

    The very conservative Attorney General has already announced that he will appeal the ruling immediately. The Louisiana Supreme Court is both corrupt and conservative, so no one can realistically expect any justice from them. But I am proud of Judge Rubin for doing the right thing.

  • 35. brooklyn11217  |  September 22, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Here is another updates from a news station in the area:

    Ruling to be released tomorrow.

  • 36. franklinsewell  |  September 22, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    I just don't understand this case.

    It looks like another judge, Ed Broussard, ruled against the couple, but he's in the same district as Judge Rubin.

    A brief I found online suggests they appealed the case to the LA 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal.

  • 37. franklinsewell  |  September 22, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Okay …

    More case history:

    The couple filed the case seeking to have their marriage respected so they both could parent their son.

    The first judge, Ed Broussard (also of the 15th Judicial District), dismissed the case (one website says, "spontaneously") because he said the petition "fails to disclose a cause of action upon which relief can be granted." The judge also failed to provide the plaintiffs leave to amend the petition, which is apparently against Louisiana's rules.

    The couple appealed to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal.

    The 3rd Circuit reversed and remanded to the District with an instruction to allow the couple to file an amended petition.

    I supposed it was assigned to Judge Rubin on remand; thus, we have today's ruling.

  • 38. ragefirewolf  |  September 22, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    There we go. Yeah, that confused me too.

  • 39. Ragavendran  |  September 22, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Tangential to this, but I wonder what the rules of judge assignment on remand are for federal courts. If the Ninth Circuit were to reverse and remand the federal district court of Nevada, would it have to go to the same judge, who might take his sweet time to comply with the ruling and issue an appropriate injunction, or can some other judge be freshly assigned who might act quickly?

  • 40. guitaristbl  |  September 22, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Although I doubt the case has any future in the appeals court and ultimately the state supreme court in Louisiana I definately welcome this ruling. It puts Feldman and his bigoted ruling to shame and provides a remedy for this small mis step earlier in federal court for Louisiana. Practically not a single state with marriage litigition (and a decision delivered) so far has been able to keep the ban in place (Tennessee's stage judge ruled after the 6th got the case and Louisiana's went the opposite way with a federal judge upholding and a state judge striking down). We are back on track ! Now fingers crossed for the 6th !

    Oh and happy 40th ruling in favour of equality since Windsor !

  • 41. jm64tx  |  September 22, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    You can expect this to be quickly overturned… Feldman's ruling is binding precedent on the state court. It cant decide a federal issue (14A) differently than a federal court already has.

    Since feldman upheld the ban against a federal constitutional challenge, the state court lacks jurisdiction to decide the federal constitutional issue differently.

  • 42. Ragavendran  |  September 22, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    I'm sorry, but this is false. The only federal court that can bind a state court (and that too, only on federal issues) is the US Supreme Court. I used to get confused often when I was a newbie here about which courts bind which courts. I stumbled upon this handy primer which has proven very useful:

  • 43. robbyinflorida  |  September 22, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    You are right. This will have to go to the state supreme court.

  • 44. ragefirewolf  |  September 22, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Keep zeroing out my comments' "points" for no reason, whoever you are, it's not gonna change anything. Not one of my comments deserved being thumbed down and their actual value to the conversation doesn't change just because you don't like me. K, thanks.

  • 45. Jen_in_MI  |  September 22, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    I wondered what the hell was going on – so I made sure to upvote you just like I do with most everything you write. I enjoy what you have to say, and whomever this coward is should stand up and let us all in on what's so objectionable here. Have a good night. 🙂

  • 46. ragefirewolf  |  September 23, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Thank you very much, Jen. I don't know either. Someone (or more that one person) on here seems to just knock down my comments no matter what I say. Oh well. I have no problem calling them out.

  • 47. Mike_Baltimore  |  September 24, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    I suspect that some of the down votes are coming from banned and/or non-registered people. A prime suspect would be a person who I presume lives in S. Carolina, since part of their log-in was "SC".

    I think the voting should ONLY be those who are registered for the site AND signed in at the time of the vote. If not registered AND/OR signed in, there should be no opportunity for vote (or the vote just disappears, similar to the way duplicate votes are currently ignored). That might mean a change of coding from an outside source, though, and I'm not sure they would be willing to do that.

  • 48. ragefirewolf  |  September 24, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    Agreed. Only registered members should be allowed to vote on comments. Sounds good to me.

  • 49. Ragavendran  |  September 22, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    I don't get it either. I rarely downvote anyone, and when I do, it is when they are saying something obviously false (e.g., jm64tx above) and even then, that is not meant to be personal in any way. I get my fair share of these ghost downvotes too. In time you learn to just ignore them and move on. I just zeroed one of your comments, but up from -1 🙂

  • 50. ragefirewolf  |  September 23, 2014 at 8:44 am

    Same here. I don't bother to vote on what someone says just to vote on something either. Only if it's very bad or just plain incorrect (down) or awesome and worthy of praise or promotion (up). Thank you for being my vote avenger though. 😀

  • 51. Corey_from_MD  |  September 22, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    This is not a "circuit split" but this sure as hell is confusion. Time to rule, Supreme Court. Enough already!

  • 52. FredDorner  |  September 22, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    Buzzfeed has a good summary:

    It sounds like it started as an as-applied ruling for this one couple, but on remand the new judge made a much broader ruling.

  • 53. JayJonson  |  September 23, 2014 at 7:21 am

    Thanks for the link to BuzzFeed. Geidner has seen the original ruling but does not have permission to quote from it directly because of possibility of edits. Apparently, the Attorney General has already begun an appeal. The plaintiffs' attorney has more confidence than I do that the Louisiana Supreme Court will do the right thing.

    The decision seems to be based largely on the federal constitution (equal protection, full faith and credit, etc.), so I think it could conceivably also be appealed in federal court. Could any legal experts here weigh in on whether a case could be appealed both to the LA Supreme Court and in federal court?

  • 54. BenG1980  |  September 23, 2014 at 7:44 am

    The only federal court to which a state case can be appealed is the U.S. Supreme Court. And, of course, this is only true if, 1) the case raises an issue of federal law, and 2) the state court of last resort has ruled.

  • 55. JayJonson  |  September 23, 2014 at 7:48 am

    Thanks. Then the La. Attorney General (a Democrat but extremely anti-gay and extremely conservative) will have to appeal in state appellate courts. Should he lose at the LA Supreme Court (unlikely in my opinion), he could still appeal to SCOTUS. Should he win there, the plaintiffs, I presume, could also appeal to SCOTUS.

    Of course, the hope–even likelihood–is that SCOTUS will already have ruled on marriage equality by the time this case gets to the LA Supreme Court.

  • 56. Mike_Baltimore  |  September 24, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    It is my understanding that anyone or any entity can automatically appeal (with a request for cert at the SCOTUS level) if they have standing. Plaintiffs are almost always considered to have standing (although the Hollingsworth case somewhat clarified that principal).

    But I agree, I hope (and expect) SCOTUS will have already ruled on ME prior to the case reaching the LA Supreme Court. And to date, I still haven't seen anything that would change my opinion that the ruling from SCOTUS will be anything but in our favor.

  • 57. F_Young  |  September 23, 2014 at 4:40 am

    "Poll: Support for Gay Marriage May Be Leveling Off"

    Actually, according to this poll, support is dropping, not leveling off.

  • 58. JayJonson  |  September 23, 2014 at 6:50 am

    I would not pay attention to this poll. Pew Research is a religious outfit. The latest NY Times/CBS poll has support for gay marriage at 57% while opposition is at a record low of 37%. Polls from Pew Research are simply pandering to the hopes and desires of their clientele.

  • 59. mworley88  |  September 23, 2014 at 7:04 am

    Is Pew run by religious people? They study religion, but that doesn't make them religious.

  • 60. JayJonson  |  September 23, 2014 at 7:11 am

    The Pew Research Center describes itself as "nonpartisan," but it is funded by the Pew Charitable Trust, which is very conservative and very religious.

  • 61. BenG1980  |  September 23, 2014 at 7:50 am

    Pew is certainly not conservative when it comes to environmental issues. I think you should research that claim a bit more. Also, I believe the Pew Charitable Trusts have provided funding to the Brookings Institution in the past.

  • 62. JayJonson  |  September 23, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Pew Charitable Trusts is certainly conservative when it comes to gay issues. For the past 5 years, it has been flogging polls reassuring conservatives that majorities continue to oppose same-sex marriage, often using precisely the same headline that they use with this latest one. In their press releases, they consistently talk about "redefining marriage" and worry about how "gay marriage" will impact "religious liberty."

    I have never paid any attention to do what they do on environmental issues. I am glad to learn that they have a good record on environmental issues since the Pew fortune was made in oil. (The founders of the Pew Charitable Trusts were heirs to the owners of Sun Oil company.)

    Beneficiaries of the Pew Charitable Trusts have included the John Birch Society, the American Liberty League, and the American Enterprise Institute.

  • 63. hopalongcassidy  |  September 23, 2014 at 8:57 am

    I would suggest that some of the negative responses to ME lately may very well be reflective of news fatigue from all our victories since Windsor rather than an actual reversal of opinion. It's easy to imagine someone who is on the fence or somewhat supportive thinking "damn, I'm tired of hearing about it", and letting that influence their responses. I've seen it with lots of other issues.

  • 64. DoctorHeimlich  |  September 23, 2014 at 9:14 am

    One can only imagine how wearing it must be, day in and day out, hearing about our lack of equal rights. 😛

  • 65. hopalongcassidy  |  September 23, 2014 at 9:17 am

    I know, it just breaks my heart…
    (I see you got my point, I hope nobody takes it wrong)

  • 66. MichaelGrabow  |  September 23, 2014 at 9:49 am

    I hate to say it, but we don't need anyone on our side who cares so little about this issue that they would be willing to flip to a pollster because of the overwhelming coverage. I see your point though.

  • 67. hopalongcassidy  |  September 23, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Uh, well in that case they wouldn't -be- on our side, would they?


  • 68. ragefirewolf  |  September 23, 2014 at 11:43 am

    I think Michael's point is more that we don't need fair-weather friends that answer yes or no to us having rights based on such trivial factors, like the direction the wind blows or if they've had their coffee or not. They might as well be against us if they do that, because they aren't true allies. Now, does that automatically make them full-on against us? No – but they also aren't reliable and I thoroughly agree, they are unwanted.

  • 69. MichaelGrabow  |  September 23, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Exactly correct.

  • 70. Jen_in_MI  |  September 23, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Hoppy, it's time to break out the tiny violins. Poor beleaguered souls! LOL

  • 71. hopalongcassidy  |  September 23, 2014 at 11:40 am

  • 72. JayJonson  |  September 23, 2014 at 10:42 am

    I doubt that there is really a rise in negative responses to ME. In fact, reliable polls have shown precisely the opposite. This poll is reliable only in the same way that Regnerus's "study" of gay parenting is "reliable." They were both paid for by religious zealots.

  • 73. FredDorner  |  September 23, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    I wouldn't be surprised if there were a negative glitch in the overall trend at this point in history. The same thing happened in 1967-68 regarding mixed-race marriage.

  • 74. ebohlman  |  September 23, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    I'm wondering if our support needs to be "goosed" by states actually implementing marriage equality rather than just getting stayed decisions, and tends to drop off (or, more likely, slow down its increase) when little is happening in practice rather than just theory.

  • 75. ragefirewolf  |  September 23, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Support does tend to accelerate once marriage equality has been law for a while but I doubt that support has actually waned with any significance. A single Pew poll doesn't mean much in my opinion.

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