A Louisiana judge on Tuesday threw out that state's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, less than three weeks after it was overwhelmingly approved by voters.
District judge William Morvant said the amendment was flawed as drawn up by the legislature because it had more than one purpose: banning not only gay marriage but also civil unions. The courts had rejected a similar argument before the September 18 election, saying it was premature.
Michael Johnson, an attorney for supporters of the amendment, said he will appeal the ruling. Some 78% of those voting favored the amendment. The Louisiana legislature pushed through the proposed ban in its session this spring. Louisiana already had a law against gay marriage, but conservatives warned that unless it was put in the state constitution, a Louisiana court could, in theory, one day follow the Massachusetts example and legalize same-sex marriage.
Christian conservatives launched a vigorous grassroots campaign to secure passage of the amendment. A gay rights group challenged the amendment on several grounds, arguing among other things that combining the question of gay marriage and the issue of civil unions in one ballot question violated state law.
"This is an important ruling for fairness. Judge Morvant's action today keeps discrimination out of the Louisiana constitution," said Cheryl Jacques, executive director of national gay rights group Human Rights Campaign. "These amendments deny American families basic rights, responsibilities, and protections. They are a political attempt to use some families as a wedge in the upcoming elections and would deny couples the most basic legal protections to care for one another. Americans don't support discrimination, especially when it's used for political purposes."