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Louisiana gay marriage ban stays on ballot

Louisiana gay marriage ban stays on ballot

A judge on Monday refused to block a September 18 statewide vote on a proposed amendment to the Louisiana constitution banning same-sex marriages. Opponents of the amendment said they would appeal. Time is critical because the secretary of state is facing a deadline this week to get ballots to the printer. Louisiana already has a law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, but supporters of the amendment want to "protect" that law in the state constitution. A group called Forum for Equality has sued, arguing that the ban would violate the Louisiana constitution's guarantee of individuals' rights to enter into contracts and own property together. Judge Michael Caldwell heard the arguments Monday and refused to order the measure removed from the ballot. He ruled that under Louisiana law such a challenge can be made only after an election is held. On Friday another judge filed a temporary order blocking the vote because September 18 is not a statewide election date, as the state constitution requires. However, he suspended his order so the state could appeal directly to the Louisiana supreme court. That judge scheduled a trial for Friday on whether to make his order permanent.

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