Gay rights group sues in attempt to get State of Louisiana to recognize gay marriage

By Kyle Barnett | Feb 12, 2014

J. Dalton Courson

NEW ORLEANS – A gay rights group along with several individuals are suing the Louisiana Department of Revenue in an attempt to require the State of Louisiana to recognize married same sex couples by allowing them to file combined tax returns.

The Forum for Equality Louisiana Inc., Jacqueline M. Brettner, M. Lauren Brettner, Nicholas J. Van Sickles, Andrew S. Bond, Henry Lambert, R. Carey Bond, L. Havard Scott III and Sergio March Prieto filed suit against Tim Barfield, in his official capacity as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Revenue, and Devin George, in his official capacity as Louisiana State Registrar, in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Louisiana on Feb. 12.

The plaintiffs claim that due to the Louisiana Anti-Recognition Laws, the state is in violation of their rights of equal protection, due process and free speech because it refuses to to recognize lawful marriages of gay couples married in other states where gay marriage is legal. While the Forum for Equality Louisiana Inc. is a gay rights organization the other plaintiffs are all same sex couples that were married in other jurisdictions. According to the plaintiffs, the Louisiana Anti-Recognition Laws serve no legitimate purpose. Further the lawsuit states that federal tax returns allow for same sex couples to file jointly while Louisiana does not, even though they allow opposite sex couples whose marriages may not be recognized in the jurisdiction to file joint returns.

In addition, the plaintiffs also oppose the Louisiana State Registrar’s refusal to issue a birth certificate to same sex couples when a child is born of the marriage.

The defendant is accused of denying equal protection rights on the basis of sexual orientation, denial of equal protection on the basis of sex, denial of due process through the fundamental right to marry, discrimination based on the exercise of fundamental rights and infringement of free speech.

The plaintiffs request the court require the State of Louisiana to uphold their fundamental rights as citizens.

The plaintiffs are represented by J. Dalton Courson of New Orleans-based Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann LLC.

The case has been assigned to U.S. Federal Judge Martin Feldman.

Case no. 2:14-cv-00327.

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