Louisiana officials delay issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples

Louisiana

Louisiana

Updated: 8:00 p.m. CDT

NEW ORLEANS — A historic Supreme Court ruling upholding same-sex marriage as a nationwide right failed to immediately topple roadblocks to legal gay unions in Louisiana, where a constitutional ban was approved by voters in 2004 and upheld by a federal judge last year.

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said he saw nothing in the 5-4 ruling that required immediate granting of licenses. The Louisiana Clerks Association issued a statement saying it was advising clerks of court to wait for the end of a 25-day period for the high court to consider a rehearing.

In New Orleans, where licenses are issued by the state health department’s vital records office, Michael Robinson, 41, and Earl Benjamin, 39, waited for hours Friday before being told that the department considered the Louisiana Constitution’s same-sex marriage ban intact – for now. It would remain in force, a department news release said, until the case was officially closed in the Ohio-based appeals court that propelled the issue to the Supreme Court.

“It’s disappointing that Louisiana will not be following the movement that is happening around the country today,” Robinson said at a news conference at the civil courthouse in New Orleans.

John Hill, spokesman for Forum For Equality Louisiana, said all legal means of expediting same-sex marriage were being explored.

More than 200 supporters of the decision gathered in Jackson Square in New Orleans’ French Quarter to celebrate the high court decision while calling on the state to end delays in its implementation.

They chanted “love wins” before singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and pledged allegiance to the flag, with many shouting the final words: “And justice for all.”

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal decried the ruling as a threat to religious freedom and Caldwell called it an affront to Louisiana voters. But neither gave any indication they would try to defy the high court.

“I don’t think it’s unreasonable for some of the clerks to meet with their counsel and decide how they’re going to go forward,” said Chris Otten, chairman-elect of the gay rights group Forum for Equality Louisiana. “But this is happening.”

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