A Louisiana state judge threw out the states constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, less than three weeks after three-fourths of the voters approved it, Tuesday, October 5, 2004.
District Judge William Morvant, an elected Republican, said the amendment was flawed because it banned civil unions in addition to gay marriages.
Morvants decision went against the vote of vast majority of Louisiana voters who showed up for the ballot this spring. The amendment itself was approved Sept. 18 by a margin of 78-22 percent.
Pro-family and Christian Conservative groups nationwide scorned Morvants decision and said they would appeal immediately.
"We have judges acting in arrogance to usurp the actions of the Legislature and deny the voters of Louisiana who voted overwhelmingly to support the protection of marriage," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council in Washington.
According to the Baptist Press, Gene Mills, executive director of the Louisiana Family Forum, said it is ironic that an amendment intended to tie the hands of judges was in the end struck down by a judge.
"We're obviously shocked," Mills told Baptist Press. "We anticipated a favorable ruling. This is not a difficult or complicated matter. It's not one that the people were unsure or unclear about -- the question of multiple objects."
The state of Louisiana, similar to the majority of states in the US, already has laws banning gay marriages. However, conservatives have pushed for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage as a means to protect the state from the actions of activist judges who have been turning over laws in favor of gay rights advocates.
According to the Associated Press, Morvant appeared to have been influenced by the testimony of a New Orleans man, William Schultz, who told the court Tuesday that voting for the ban posed a dilemma for him, because he opposed gay marriage on the one hand, but favored civil unions on the other and an emotional appeal from Rawls, who pleaded with the judge to uphold the rights of the "most despised minority."
However, Morvant was quoted as saying that his decision was a matter of law. Emotions do not, will not play a part in this court's ruling.
Gay rights advocates applauded the ruling, calling it fair.
Judge Morvants action today keeps discrimination out of the Louisiana constitution. These amendments deny American families basic rights, responsibilities and protections, said Cheryl Jacques, president of the Human Rights Campaign the nations largest gay rights activist group. "This is an important ruling for fairness.
However, Mills disagreed.
"I think what Thomas Jefferson said early on is indicative of the problem in America today -- the people are the final arbiter of the Constitution," he told said. "... It's not a judge. The people have spoken in this matter."