Ban on same-sex marraige hurts Louisiana, New Orleans community

Claire Davenport, Staff Writer

The following is an opinion article and opinion articles do not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision not to rule on challenges to gay marriage bans in various states brings the next battleground for same-sex marriage rights to New Orleans. If the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decides to overturn Louisiana’s same-sex marriage ban New Orleans and Louisiana would benefit from greater equality. Diversity of sexual orientation should be celebrated just as much as diversity of gender and race. 

Earlier this month state district Judge Edward Rubin ruled that the ban on gay marriage in Louisiana violated the 14th Amendment and the Full Faith and Credit Clause and needs to be eradicated. In a separate challenge, Federal Judge Martin Feldman, who interestingly holds both his undergraduate and law degrees from Tulane University, however, recently upheld Louisiana’s same-sex marriage ban, breaking the streak of federal court victories for same-sex marriage supporters. 

Gay rights advocates said they would carry Judge Feldman’s ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit centered in New Orleans, which is expected to hear the appeal in the coming months. 

Jennifer Lay, associate chair of the political science department, said the squabble between state and federal courts has been going on for ages. She explained that the issue of gay marriage has surprising similarities to the issue of abortion rights in the 1970s. During the famous Roe v. Wade case, the courts ruled in favor of abortion rights. While many people in the country supported the decision, it created a huge backlash. Lay said the Supreme Court may believe that by not ruling on the issue, states can slowly legalize gay marriage one by one, and then there will be no large backlash.

But what if states are taking too long? The movement for gay rights, on one hand, has taken off as one of the fastest civil rights movement in the history of the United States. Lay said in the early 1990s only about 29 percent of citizens supported gay marriage rights, but now in 2014 recent polls suggest about 56 percent of the population believes gay people should have the right to marry.

This ongoing court battle is especially relevant to New Orleans, a city with many diverse gender identities, sexualities and orientations. The Southern Decadence parade in September is just one example of the thriving gay community in the city. 

Louisiana needs to realize the importance of striking down the gay marriage ban and end the judgment of anyone based on his or her orientation. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg said there is no rush for a decision, but there should always be a rush to grant our citizens basic civil liberties.

Claire Davenport is a freshman in the Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached for comment at [email protected]  

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