After three courts told him he had to, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal will finally allow his administration to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples today.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that couples now can start marrying in Orleans, where Jindal had barred state employees from complying with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality. He couldn't seem to make up his mind on whether the justices really had the last word.
Immediately after the high court ruled last month that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, Jindal was defiant. His state would not allow such marriages, his spokesman said, unless "the courts order us otherwise."
Jindal's administration argued it's possible the Supreme Court's ruling didn't apply to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, where Louisiana had been defending its statewide ban.
Then, on Sunday, Jindal seemed to relent. He told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press that "we don't have a choice" on whether to allow gay couples to wed. "Our agencies will comply with the court order."
On Wednesday, the circuit court actually went through the motion of confirming the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over it. "Obergefell, in both its Fourteenth and First Amendment iterations, is the law of the land and, consequently, the law of this circuit and should not be taken lightly by actors within the jurisdiction of this court," wrote the Fifth Circuit.
But Jindal's administration jumped on that as reason to delay even further. The Fifth Circuit technically sent the case back to the lower, district court where its earlier ruling in favor of the state had to be corrected. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that Jindal's spokesman said no same-sex couple would be recognized until the district court formally reversed itself. And so it did that today.
The district court technically had until July 17 to meet the deadline. But the Fifth Circuit made it clear that time is of the essence. "The district court must act expeditiously on remand," it wrote, "especially in view of the declining health of plaintiff Robert Welles."