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Religious Tolerance logo

The U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage (aka gay
marriage) across the U.S. in its ruling of The Obergefell v. Hodges
case from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee.

Part 48: 2015-JULY:
2015-JULY: Louisiana capitulates to reality.
Gay marriage is now routine throughout the U.S.
mainland, Alaska, Hawaii and most Territories,
except for a few scattered counties:
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We use the term "gay marriage."to represent the marriage of two persons of
the same sex. We prefer "Same-sex marriage," a more inclusive term that
includes spouses with a bisexual sexual orientation, but it would make this web
site harder to find.
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.
"LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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2015-JUL-07: Marriage equality comes to Louisiana:

The story begins a decade earlier, during 2004, when Chastity Brewer gave birth to a son as a result of donor insemination from an anonymous donor. Under California law, the donor is not recognized to be the child's father; Ms. Brewer was recognized as the child's sole parent.

During 2008, she married Angela Marie Costanza in California. This occurred after May of that year, when the California Supreme Court had legalized gay marriage in the state. They married before November of that year when Proposition 8 was very narrowly passed by the voters of the state to outlaw gay marriages. Even though new gay marriages were prohibited in California by Prop 8, marriages in that state that had been legally solemnized before November continued to be recognized by the state as valid.

The couple filed a Petition for Intrafamily Adoption with the Fifteenth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Lafayette in their home state of Louisiana. Their request was to allow Angela Costanza to be recognized as a legal parent of the child that they have been raising together. He was 10 years of age at the time they filed the Petition.

This court granted the couple's intrafamily adoption request. The final decree was signed on 2014-FEB-05.

However, Attorney General Caldwell initiated a motion to cancel the adoption against the wishes of the parents. He argued that his office had not been properly notified in advance. During the hearing for Caldwell's motion, called Angela Marie Costanza et al. v. James D. Caldwell, et al., the couple argued that they have a fundament. constitutional right:

  • to marry,

  • to have their legal marriage that was solemnized and recorded in California recognized in Louisiana,

  • to be both recognized as their child's parents,

  • and to rear children together like every other married couple.

At the time, the couple was denied access to many state and federal marriage programs, protections and benefits because the State of Louisiana did not recognize their marriage. Also, by not having Angela Costanza recognized as the child's parent, the child could be exposed to life-threatening danger in the case of an accident requiring medical treatment if his birth mother, Chastity Brewer, was temporarily unavailable.

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The state argued before the District Court that:

  • It is important to for children to be raised in intact families in which they are biologically related to both parents.

    Webmaster's note. [bias alert]: That is, the state is willing to leave a child exposed to danger because he is not biologically related to one of the women who is raising him and who he considers to be his parent. That definitely appears to be not in the best interests of the child or to the stability of the family which the state claims to value.

  • The state also argued that fundamental social change, such as the recoginition of same-sex marriages should only happen after there is first a widespread social concensus for change. That is, even if it could be shown that a ban on gay marriage violates the U.S. Constitution, allowing such marriages would have to be delayed until support for gay marriages by voters in Alabama reached more than 50%.

    Webmaster's note. [bias alert]: That could take a long time, perhaps until 2030 at the present rate of increase of support for gay marriages in the state. To deprive two parents and a child of state and federal marriage protections and benefits definitely appears to be not in the best interests of either the parents or of the child.

The court agreed with the couple's argument They concluded that rights guaranteed by the federal Constitution are of paramount importance:

"... that marriage laws can vary in some respects from state to state, but Louisiana cannot define and regulate marriage to the extent that it infringes upon the constitutional rights of the petitioners. This court finds that there is no rational connection between Louisiana's laws prohibiting same sex marriage and its goals of linking children to intact families formed by their biological parents, or ensuring that fundamental social change occurs through widespread social consensus. ... There can be no distinction between linking children to 'intact families' formed by biological parents and linking children who are already in intact families involving same-sex marriages such as the Constanza/Brewer family. ... "

Attorney General Caldwell, appealed the decision of the 15th Judicial Court of the Parish of Lafayette to the Supreme Court of Alabama.

However, on 2015-JUN-26, before the Alabama Supreme Court could issue its decision, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its own decision in the Obergefell v. Hodges case from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee. This high court decision:

  • Legalized gay marriages throughout the entire United States.

  • Required each state, territory and the District of Columbia to recognize marriages by same-sex couples that were solemnized out-of-state.

The Obergefell decision changed everything, both in Alabama and in the rest of the United States.

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2015-JUL-07: The Alabama Supreme Court issued a news release:

The news release stated that the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court found that:

"... state bans on same-sex marriage violate both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Court further recognized there is 'no lawful basis' to uphold so-called 'recognition bans' – such as Louisiana’s laws banning recognition of same-sex marriages performed under the laws of other states. ..."

"The United States Supreme Court’s interpretation of the federal constitution is final and binding on this court. ..."

"In light of the United States Supreme Court’s opinion in Obergefell and the action of the federal district court in Robicheaux, the issues presented in this appeal have been resolved. Through the action of the federal courts, plaintiffs have received all the relief they requested in their motion for summary judgment, which forms the basis for this appeal. Given these developments, there is no longer a justiciable controversy for this court to resolve."

The Alabama Supreme Court dismissed the appeal:

"... as moot. The case is remanded to the District Court for further proceedings."

In other words, it is all over. The Brewer/Constanza marriage which was solemnized in California in 2008 is now recognized by the state of Louisiana. Both women are now regarded by the state as their child's parents. The family now receives access to hundreds of state marriage benefits and 1,138 federal benefits and protections on the same basis as opposite-sex married couples enjoy. Everybody benefits except for the majority of voters in Louisiana who disapprove of gay marriages and feel uncomfortable living in a state where both opposite-sex and same-sex couples are treated equally. However, if the experiences in other areas of North America happen in Louisiana, then there will be a sudden increase in support for marriage equality leading to majority support before too long.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. "News Release #033," Supreme Court of Louisiana, 2015-JUL-07, at:

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How you may have arrived here:

Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2015-JUL-13
Latest update: 2015-JUL-13
Author: - Robinson
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