For the first time since the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in U.S. v. Windsor, a federal court found a state marriage ban constitutional. U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman upheld Louisiana’s marriage ban, saying, “The State of Louisiana has a legitimate interest under a rational basis standard of review for addressing the meaning of marriage through the democratic process.”
According to the Buzzfeed, Feldman, appointed to the bench in 1983 by President Reagan, noted his departure from other judges, writing, “It would no doubt be celebrated to be in the company of the near-unanimity of the many other federal courts that have spoken to this pressing issue, if this Court were confident in the belief that those cases provide a correct guide.”
Today’s ruling is a bump in the road for LGBT rights advocates, who have ridden a wave of success since last year’s landmark Supreme Court decisions striking down Section 3 of DOMA and putting an end to California’s Prop. 8. Earlier this summer Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage was invalidated, a judge struck down Kentucky’s marriage ban, Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. rejected a county official's bid to suspend a ruling that overturned Pennsylvania's same-sex marriage ban, in Colorado a District Court judge declared the state’s ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional and the Utah attorney general announced he would appeal a court decision in favor of marriage equality in the state to the U.S. Supreme Court. Marriage bans were also ruled unconstitutional in Wisconsin and Indiana. Attorneys General from both states appealed those rulings (rather rushed in Wisconsin), and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently heard those arguments.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, there are over 70 court cases challenging discriminatory marriage bans across the country in 30 of the 31 states where such a ban exists, plus Puerto Rico. Cases from twelve states are currently pending before six federal appeals courts. The Sixth Circuit holds the distinction of being the only federal appeals court to date that will consider marriage cases from all states within its jurisdiction. In total, 33 states either have marriage equality or have seen state marriage bans struck down as unconstitutional in court. Since the Supreme Court’s historic marriage rulings last year, there have been 16 consecutive federal court decisions that bans on marriage equality are unconstitutional. These rulings have come from judges appointed by both Democrat and Republican presidents.