The tide shifted this week in the legal battle over marriage when a judge issued the first federal court ruling in over a year that upholds a state Marriage Protection Amendment as constitutional. In a 32-page decision issued on September 3, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldblum upheld the constitutionality of Louisiana’s Marriage Amendment, which states that marriage in Louisiana “shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.” In his opinion, Judge Feldblum concluded, “There is simply no fundamental right, historically or traditionally, to same-sex marriage,” and that “Louisiana has a legitimate interest under a rational basis standard of review for addressing the meaning of marriage through the democratic process.”
The ruling in Louisiana ends a year-long streak of legal victories in federal courts for same-sex “marriage” proponents, which began in June 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Courts struck down a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in its landmark United States v. Windsor decision. Since the Windsor ruling, nearly 40 state and federal courts have ruled against state marriage protection laws. While the majority of courts have used Windsor as justification for striking down these laws, Judge Feldblum actually cited Windsor in his decision to uphold Louisiana’s law. “Windsor repeatedly and emphatically reaffirmed the longstanding principle that the authority to regulate the subject of domestic relations belongs to the states, subject to indistinct future constitutional guarantees that in Windsor were, by its expressed limits, left open and rather inexact,” he wrote.
Judge Feldblum’s decision contains many powerful truths about the purpose of marriage, the importance of the current democratic debate over marriage, and the authority of states to define marriage. Following are a few key quotes:
State Marriage Protection Laws are NOT “irrational” but rather serve a legitimate public purpose. In response to the argument from same-sex “marriage” proponents (and some courts) that there is “no rational basis” for state marriage protection laws, Judge Feldblum wrote: “Louisiana’s laws and Constitution are directly related to achieving marriage’s historically preeminent purpose of linking children to their biological parents. Louisiana’s regime pays respect to the democratic process; to vigorous debate… 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.”