In a decision handed down Wednesday, a Louisiana federal judge not only upheld a state's right to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, but ruled that the Constitution grants no “right” to same-sex “marriage” and that marriage protection laws serve the interests of children.
“There is simply no fundamental right, historically or traditionally, to same-sex marriage,” U.S. District Judge Martin L.C. Feldman wrote in a 32-page ruling.
Same-sex “marriage” was “nonexistent and even inconceivable until very recently,” wrote Feldman, who was appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan. “The court is persuaded that a meaning of what is marriage that has endured in history for thousands of years, and prevails in a majority of states today, is not universally irrational on the constitutional grid.”
“Fundamental social change, in this instance, is better cultivated through democratic consensus,” he said.
His ruling stated that the lawsuit, Robicheaux v. Caldwell, showcased the clash between “decisions reached by way of the democratic process” and “personal, genuine, and sincere lifestyle choices” demanding public “recognition.”
Homosexual activists believe “if two people wish to enter into a bond of commitment and care and have that bond recognized by law as a marriage, they should be free to do so, and their choice should be recognized by law as a marriage; never mind the historic authority of the state or the democratic process.”
Judge Feldman's decision was the second ruling in as many months to uphold a state's right to define marriage, a right explicitly referenced by the Supreme Court in its Windsor decision. Tennessee state Judge Russell Simmons upheld that state's marriage protection amendment in August, citing the 1972 Supreme Court case Baker v. Nelson, which upholds a state's right to establish their own laws on marriage.
However, dozens of judges have struck down state constitutional marriage protection amendments. Judge Feldman wrote that those court rulings to date have been motivated by “pathos,” made by courts that “appear to have assumed the mantle of a legislative body.”
Feldman wrote that, in his courtroom, the “plaintiff's counsel was unable to answer” how a future court, using the same logic, could not force a state to allow incestuous or pedophile “marriages.”
Despite allegations that such bans are motivated by hate, Judge Feldman said this case does not merit heightened scrutiny, in part because “neither the Supreme Court nor the Fifth Circuit [Court of Appeals] has ever before defined sexual orientation as a protected class, despite opportunities to do so.”
Since “Louisiana's laws and Constitution are directly related to achieving marriage's historically preeminent purpose of linking children to their biological parents,” they do not violate the Equal Protection or Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Pro-family activists were ebullient at the second legal triumph, the first such ruling from a federal judge.
“This ruling is a victory for children, each of whom need and desire a mom and dad, something our public policy should encourage,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, a former Louisiana legislator. “This decision is a victory for the rule of law, and for religious liberty and free speech, which are undermined anywhere marriage is redefined.”
Perkins thanked Judge Feldman “for refraining from judicial activism” by ruling “that the courts have no authority to unilaterally change the definition of our most fundamental social institution.”
The decision took the plaintiffs by surprise. Dalton Courson, their attorney, said he would likely appeal, but “I haven't had time to think about the specific grounds for the appeal.”
Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a homosexual pressure group, said Judge Feldman's ruling “put up a roadblock on a path constructed by 21 federal court rulings over the last year a path that inevitably leads to nationwide marriage equality.”
But marriage proponents disagreed. “Here we see the house of cards collapsing that supported the myth that redefining marriage is inevitable,” said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. “Overwhelmingly, voters have rejected redefining marriage, and we expect the U.S. Supreme Court to do so, as well.”
Only 13 states and the District of Columbia have democratically passed laws redefining marriage.
More than 70 court cases are currently challenging state marriage protection laws in 30 states, plus Puerto Rico. Eleven cases are pending in appeals courts.
But pro-family intellectuals say their message is simple: If homosexuals want to establish that they have the “right” to “marriage,” they must persuade voters rather than left-leaning judges.
Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Byron Babione said, “The people of Louisiana – and the people of every state – should continue to have the authority to affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman in their laws.”
Heritage Foundation marriage scholar Ryan T. Anderson wrote at The Daily Signal, “The debate about marriage cannot be put to rest by a court-imposed 50-state solution. This is the people’s decision.”