Forum for Equality files lawsuit challenging the ban in recognizing same sex couples in LA

Forum for Equality files lawsuit challenging the ban in recognizing same sex couples in LA
NBC33 STAFF
Louisiana Politics

POSTED: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - 11:30am

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - 1:04pm

Forum for Equality Louisiana, together with four couples, filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s constitutional ban on recognizing same-sex marriages legally performed outside the state.

The lawsuit charges that Louisiana’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages violates the US constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. The lawsuit also asserts that state officials infringe the couples’ First Amendment rights by requiring them to claim that they are unmarried on state tax returns.

The couples are Jacqueline and Lauren Brettner from New Orleans, Nicholas Van Sickels and Andrew Bond from New Orleans, Henry Lambert and Carey Bond from New Orleans, and Havard Scott and Sergio March Prieto from Shreveport.

The basis of the equal protection violation claim is that Louisiana recognizes marriages legally performed elsewhere, including marriages that cannot be entered into inside the state, such as marriages between first cousins or common-law marriages. Louisiana singles out only same-sex marriages for unequal treatment, a violation of the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

The couples are also forced to break Louisiana law requiring them to file their state income tax returns based on their federal returns. Instead of piggy-backing on their joint returns filed with the federal government as all other married couples, same-sex couples must go to the extra expense of creating fictitious federal returns in order to file their state return, a violation of their First Amendment rights of free speech.

“Louisiana’s disparate treatment of same-sex and opposite-sex couples who are married outside of Louisiana demonstrates that the purpose of the Louisiana Anti-Recognition Laws is to ‘impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages’ that were lawfully celebrated in other states,” according to the lawsuit, which frequently cites the US Supreme Court’s 2013 decision overturning a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. 

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