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Couples challenge Louisiana law against recognizing same-sex marriages

Four married same-sex couples have joined with the Forum for Equality Louisiana [advocacy website] in filling a federal lawsuit [complaint, PDF] Wednesday challenging the Louisiana Constitution's prohibition [Article XIII section 15] against recognizing same-sex marriages performed legally in other states. The Louisiana Constitution as amended in 2004 defines marriage as "only of the union of one man and one woman," and states that "No official or court of the state of Louisiana shall recognize any marriage contracted in any other jurisdiction which is not the union of one man and one woman. Two of the couples filing the lawsuit cited [AP report] concerns regarding Louisiana's failure to recognize both members of a same-sex union as parents regardless of whether the child is adopted or born to the union, as the impetus for joining the lawsuit. The lawsuit also challenges a state revenue department policy that has forced married same-sex couples who file joint federal tax returns to file separate "single" state tax returns in the state, allegedly violating their First Amendment right to free speech. The case is scheduled to be heard [New Orleans Times-Picayune report] in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana [official website] by Judge Martin Feldman.

Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] continues to be a contentious issue in the US. Earlier this week a judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Kentucky [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that Kentucky must recognize valid out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples living in Kentucky. The case was brought by four same-sex couples living in Kentucky, who had been legally married in Canada or other US states. On Monday US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] issued a policy memorandum [JURIST report] stating that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] will recognize and extend benefits to all same-sex marriages, including those performed in states that do not recognize them. Also on Monday Nevada Attorney General [official website] Catherine Cortez Masto announced [JURIST report] that her office would no longer be pursuing its legal defense of the state's same-sex marriage ban, stating that recent decisions in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had rendered the state's arguments untenable.

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