marriageequality_300by Mary Griggs

Despite Randy Thompson’s recent declaration that “Valentine’s Day is only for one man and one woman,” the LGBTQ community should not feel excluded from this day.

According to one legend, in 269, the Roman Emperor Claudius II prohibited marriage for young men, declaring that bachelors made better soldiers. Ignoring the ruling, Valentine secretly continued to perform marriage ceremonies. As a result, he was arrested and beaten. Because Valentine refused obey the Emperor’s decree, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate.

mary speaking croppedAs I participated in the Forum For Equality Louisiana’s press conference announcing the lawsuit to challenge Louisiana’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages, I was struck about the current application of this holiday to our community – the Roman state was wrong then and the state of Louisiana is wrong now.

You cannot read or listen to the stories of our plaintiffs without realizing that marriage equality for loving couples is the right thing to do. Loving adult couples who are willing to make the necessary sacrifices and take on the required responsibilities deserve the same legal rights, benefits and respect that marriage bestows. Committed couples should not be denied the security and legal protections of marriage. It is flat out wrong to make it harder for these couples to take care of and be responsible for each other and any children they might raise.

The Forum For Equality lawsuit (see FFELA Lawsuit PDF) 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 upon the couples’ First Amendment rights by requiring them to claim that they are unmarried on state tax returns.

As the lawsuit argues: “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.” This is just legalized homophobia.

These couples want to have the same rights and responsibilities as any other married couples in Louisiana. Their legal marriages should be treated like all other marriages. The state doesn’t have a legitimate reason to not to recognize them.

The saint for whom this day is named made the ultimate sacrifice for his commitment to marriage. I hope that some of you can make a financial commitment of $10 or more per month to help the Forum For Equality Louisiana in their fight for marriage.

With the hope that someday marriage equality will come to Louisiana, I want to wish everyone a very happy St. Valentine’s Day!