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Lawsuit challenges Louisiana's ban on same-sex marriages

By The Associated Press
On March 13, 2014

  • Nicholas Van Sickle (right) stands with his husband, Andrew Bond, and holds their 2-year-old adopted daughter, Jules, before a news conference in New Orleans about a federal lawsuit filed on Feb. 12. JANET MCCONNAUGHEY/The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Four gay, married couples filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Louisiana Constitution's prohibition against recognizing same-sex marriages performed legally in other states.
Currently, Louisiana does not recognize both members of a same-sex union as parents, whether the child is adopted or born to the parents.
Physician Nicholas Van Sickle and history teacher Andrew Bond, who married in August in Washington, D.C., have been committed since 2008. Van Sickle's name is on their 2 -year-old daughter's birth certificate as her only parent.
"We were there for her birth and every moment since," Van Sickle said.
However, Van Sickle must renew a provisional custody document every year to give Bond limited legal rights to care for their daughter Jules.
The lawsuit follows months of legal research following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in June, finding that same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.
Ryan Delaney and Brandon Robb, attorneys at the New Orleans law firm, Delaney and Robb, have a focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender law. The two are optimistic about the outcome of this lawsuit.
"A precedent is being set all around the country. Courts that are examining this issue around the country are relying on the equal protection and due process clauses of the fifth and fourteenth amendment," Robb said.
Delaney and Robb hold the position that the 2004 amendment violates same-sex couples rights granted to them in the constitution.
"It's really just an argument that it denies equal treatment to gay and lesbian couples, who are not receiving the same protection under the law as a straight couple would within the same type of relationship," Robb said.
However, unless courts overturn a 2004 constitutional amendment defining marriage as "only of the union of one man and one woman," the state must do as it says, according to state Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield, a defendant in the suit.
"I'm sure they'll try to get the constitutional provision ruled unconstitutional. Until that happens, we have to uphold the Constitution and laws of Louisiana," Barfield said. "If that challenge is unsuccessful, we'll continue business as usual."
Lauren Stroh contributed to this article.
She can be reached at 

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