La. marriage amendment appears headed to state high court

NEW ORLEANS (BP)--A Louisiana state judge ruled Aug. 20 that a proposed marriage amendment is unconstitutional and cannot appear on the Sept. 18 ballot, moving the case one step closer to an ultimate decision by the state Supreme Court.

The ruling by Judge Christopher Bruno came one week after he issued a temporary ruling against the amendment.

Meanwhile, two state appeals courts heard arguments Aug. 22 on the constitutionality of the amendment. One of those was an appeal of Bruno's ruling. Amendment opponents have filed at least three lawsuits seeking to prevent it from going before voters.

All of the cases are on a fast track to the state Supreme Court, meaning that they are being moved along at a faster-than-normal pace. The election is less than one month away.

Thus far, three judges have issued rulings on the amendment, with Bruno's ruling being the only one against it. According to the Associated Press, Bruno ruled that the amendment violates Louisiana's constitution because it deals with more than one issue -- it bans both same-sex "marriage" and Vermont-type civil unions. In addition, Bruno said it is unconstitutional because Sept. 18 is not a statewide election date.

Louisiana Assistant Attorney General Roy Mongrue, who defended the amendment before Bruno, previously said he expects it to stay on the ballot.

"We think that on the merits of this case, the legislature properly passed this resolution and that the resolution should go to the voters of this state," Mongrue said, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "I think the voters should be allowed to vote on it. Our goal obviously is to try to get ultimately the Supreme Court to rule one way or the other on this."

The Louisiana legislature passed a bill earlier this year placing the amendment on the ballot. It has widespread support, including that of Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat.

Including Louisiana, at least 13 states could vote on marriage amendments this year. One of those, Missouri, passed its amendment in early August with 71 percent of the vote.

State marriage amendments tie the hands of state courts, preventing Massachusetts-type rulings legalizing same-sex "marriage." But they can be overturned in federal courts, where Nebraska's marriage amendment is being challenged. For that reason, pro-family groups are supporting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.


For more information about the national debate over same-sex "marriage," visit

http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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