There's no question that Louisiana voters overwhelmingly approved an anti-gay marriage amendment to the state constitution. The question before the Louisiana supreme court is whether lawmakers fouled up while writing it.
The high court heard arguments Wednesday on a judge's ruling that nullified the amendment, which was approved by 78% of the voters in September. The justices gave no indication when they would rule.
In October state district judge William Morvant of Baton Rouge struck down the amendment, saying the proposition's structure violated a constitutional requirement that an amendment deal with only one issue. Besides banning same-sex marriages, Morvant said, the amendment prevents the state from recognizing any legal status of common-law relationships, domestic partnerships, and civil unions between gay or heterosexual couples.
Supporters of the "defense of marriage" amendment have said those issues are simply subsets of the main issue--defining marriage strictly as the union of a man and woman, a definition currently contained in state law.
Backers said the amendment is needed to keep the legislature--or Louisiana courts--from authorizing same-sex marriage, as happened in Massachusetts when that state's high court legalized such unions in November 2003.