A lawsuit challenging Louisiana’s constitutional ban on recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states was filed in U.S. District Court’s Eastern Division in New Orleans today. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down parts of the 1996 DOMA law that denied federal benefits to same-sex marriages. In striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, a 5-to-4 majority of the Supreme Court overturned a law that denied federal benefits to same-sex couples.In striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, a 5-to-4 majority of the Supreme Court overturned a law that denied federal benefits to same-sex couples.
Plaintiffs in the suit are Forum for Equality Louisiana, the statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization, and four same-sex couples. One of the couples - Havard Scott and Sergio March Prieto – live in Shreveport.
Other plaintiffs are Jacqueline and Lauren Brettner; Nicholas Van Sickels and Andrew Bond; and Henry Lambert and Cary Bond, all of New Orleans.
The lawsuit claims Louisiana discriminates against gay and lesbian couples because it recognizes marriages performed in other states that are illegal here, such as common law marriages and marriages between first cousins.
In addition, the lawsuit claims gay couples’ first amendment rights are violated in that their marriages are recognized by the federal government and they file taxes as “married filing jointly,” or “married filing separately,” their Louisiana taxes must be filed as “single.”
Shreveport attorney Mike Johnson, who led the charge for Louisiana’s 2005 “Defense of Marriage Amendment,” a constitutional amendment passed in both state houses and was enacted after 78 percent of Louisiana voters approved it in 2004, called the lawsuit “a publicity stunt.”