After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last year, proponents of marriage equality started an ambitious campaign: file suits challenging state bans on same-sex marriage. The effort was a remarkable success – over the course of roughly a year, state and federal courts nationwide have ruled against gay marriage bans from coast to coast.
It was an uninterrupted streak of success for civil-rights proponents, spanning more than two dozen courts, though it came to an unexpected end last month with a state court ruling in Tennessee.
Today, the streak in the federal courts came to an end, too. Emma Margolin reports, “For the first time since last year’s historic DOMA ruling, a federal judge has ruled against marriage equality.”
U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, a President Reagan appointee, upheld Louisiana’s same-sex marriage ban on Wednesday, finding that the plaintiffs failed to prove either an equal protection violation, or a First Amendment violation (in that married same-sex couples have to write “single” on their tax returns). The decision breaks a 20-plus string of federal courtroom victories for same-sex couples hoping to either marry, or have their out-of-state marriages recognized at home.“[It] is not for this Court to resolve the wisdom of same-sex marriage,” said Feldman in his 32-page opinion. “Federalism is not extinct. Federalism remains a vibrant and essential component of our nation’s constitutional structure.”
The Reagan-appointed judge wasn’t especially subtle about his ideological predispositions, referring in the ruling to same-sex unions as “lifestyle choices” and concluding that no “fundamental right” was at issue in the case. “Public attitude might be becoming more diverse, but any right to same-sex marriage is not yet so entrenched as to be fundamental,” Feldman wrote.
Then he got to his “inconvenient questions.”
“For example, must the states permit or recognize a marriage between an aunt and niece? Aunt and nephew? Brother/brother? Father and child? May minors marry? Must marriage be limited to only two people? What about a transgender spouse? Is such a union same-gender or male-female? All such unions would undeniably be equally committed to love and caring for one another, just like the plaintiffs.”
Yep, here’s a federal judge comparing same-sex marriage to polygamy and incest – in a court ruling, no less.
An appeal seems very likely.