On September 3rd, a United States federal judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana denied equal rights to LGBT citizens in his decision on the Forum For Equality marriage equality lawsuit. Here is the decision: Order and Reasons
Judge Feldman wrote: “The defendants (ie the state of Louisiana) have shown that Louisiana’s decision to neither permit nor recognize same sex marriage, formed in the arena of the democratic process, is supported by a rational basis.”
This was very disappointing for me as a Louisiana resident and as Chair of the Forum For Equality Louisiana, which is one of the plaintiffs in the case. Marriage is a basic freedom that should not be denied to any consenting adult. No member of any family should be singled out for unfair treatment or denied their basic freedoms just because of who they are and who they love.
This was the first (out of 29 rulings in 25 cases from 21 different federal courts) ruling in favor of constitutional bans on marriage equality since Windsor. The opposition, however, has wasted little time in using it. Recently, Republicans on the US House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs invoked Feldman’s decision to justify their discriminating against veterans by rejecting a measure that would have enabled veterans with same-sex spouses to receive partner benefits wherever they live in the country.
Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) said. “I believe that it is not appropriate to usurp the states’ power to democratically define marriage for their citizenry — not for personal belief, and not for bureaucratic convenience.”
Strange all this faith in the ‘democratic process’ considering the numerous efforts the Republican party and the American Legislative Exchange Council has tried lately to disenfranchise voters.
Stranger still is my faith in it, too.
Ten years ago, on September 18, 2004, 27.5% of Louisiana’s 2.8 million voters went to the polls. 78% of them voted in favor of Louisiana’s constitutional ban on same sex marriage.
That’s right – the decision that enshrined discrimination into the Louisiana constitution was made by just 619,908 people.
Think about it – 619,908 people. Those few, those unhappy few, made law that denies some of us the chance at happiness that comes with being married, just because the person we love is the same sex.
So what can you do?
Vote early (early voting is October 21 to 28) and vote often (primary election is November 4th, general election is December 6)!
The deadline to register to vote in Louisiana for the November 4th election is October 6th.
September 23rd is National Voter Registration Day. Make sure you, your friends, your neighbors and all your relations are registered. To help, there are a number of voter registration events happening across the state. Click here for more information.
Even if you are registered, take a minute to check your voter registration online at www.geauxvote.com.
Once you’ve voted, think about getting involved – the Louisiana legislative session begins April 13, 2015 and you can help ensure the candidates you elected (and future constitutional amendments) reflect the values of all of Louisiana’s citizens including freedom and justice for all.
Consider joining the fight for LGBT equality by becoming a volunteer or member of Forum For Equality Louisiana. We are dedicated to the establishment of a society free from discrimination and to the support of good government.
We are also committed to appealing Judge Feldman’s decision all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. Please make a donation to Forum for Equality and invest in equality today. Click here for secure donation form.
The title of this post comes from a Louis L’Amour quote –
To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.