I guess it can’t hurt to try:
A gay couple in New Orleans is suing over being denied a marriage license in Louisiana, claiming their rights are being violated by a state constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.
Kristoffer Bonilla, 33, and John Thomas Wray, 18, are asking a federal judge to strike down the constitutional amendment, which lawmakers and voters overwhelmingly approved in 2004.
A few thoughts . . .
First, these two sure don’t look like very sympathetic plaintiffs. Thirty three and eighteen? Gay or straight, that’s prima facia wrong, even if legal. It’s also ammunition for opponents of equality: “See, give the gays the right to marry and the next step will be legalized child abuse!” Maybe things are o.k., but I wish these two had considered this and let some other couple file the suit.
Second, the argument is interesting:
The men filed the lawsuit against several state and local officials on April 2, the same day they said they were denied a marriage license. It claims the state’s marriage amendment violates the First Amendment “by curtailing the right to marry based upon a religious interpretation of the nature and purpose of marriage itself.”
“By failing to articulate a legitimate, compelling and secular interest for the restriction on marriage, the state has necessarily established a wholly religious civil institution,” it says.
There is no valid secular reason to oppose gay marriage. There’s plenty of smokescreens, for instance the argument that we can’t let gays marry because the only reason for marriage is children. But no one really believes that, otherwise we would not let post-menopausal women or infertile men marry. That argument is simply a pretext for “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”
Still, even if the plaintiffs manage to prove the negative – there is no secular reason for banning gay marriage – they still have to show that this violates the establishment clause. In other words, the amendment didn’t create a state church or benefit any particular religious group. All it did was change a civil law, but do so for a religious reason. While basing civil laws on religious doctrine is bad policy, I’m not sure it would violate the Constitution.
Of course, I’m assuming anyone will actually read the arguments. In this part of the country, even in federal court, that’s a HUGE assumption. What’s more likely to happen is that the judges will spend the entire procedure looking for the most convenient way to dismiss the suit. The merits won’t even occur to them. That’s a shame, because these are interesting arguments.
Third observation, and a civics lesson, too. This amendment was challenged in state court just after it was passed. The state supremes upheld it. Now the opponents of the new case are already trying to use the old one to muddy the waters:
Alliance Defense Fund attorney Mike Johnson, who argued for the [state constitution anti-marriage] amendment when the [state] Supreme Court heard the case, called the new lawsuit frivolous.
“Our marriage amendment is comprehensive in its scope and definitive in its meaning, and there’s no question that our state Supreme Court has upheld it,” he said.
All true, and all completely irrelevant to the current case. It does not matter how clearly our state constitution expresses our state’s bigotry and ignorance. If our state constitution conflicts with the federal constitution, that part of our state constitution goes buh-bye.
Mike Johnson is an attorney, he knows that. He’s intentionally misleading people. But I guess dishonesty for Jesus is o.k. Anyway, I doubt it will happen in this case, but here’s hoping Louisiana will soon be rid of not only the anti-marriage amendment, but Mike Johnson, the ADF and similar buttholes as well.