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Forum for Equality Louisiana Lawsuit

Forum for Equality Louisiana Lawsuit

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Published by Howard Friedman
Challenge to Louisiana's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages.
Challenge to Louisiana's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages.

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Published by: Howard Friedman on Feb 13, 2014
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/13/2014

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTEASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANAFORUM FOR EQUALITY LOUISIANA, INC.,JACQUELINE M. BRETTNER,M. LAUREN BRETTNER, NICHOLAS J. VAN SICKELS, ANDREW S. BOND,HENRY LAMBERT,R. CAREY BOND,L. HAVARD SCOTT, III, andSERGIO MARCH PRIETO,Plaintiffs, v.TIM BARFIELD, in his official capacity asSecretary of the Louisiana Department of Revenue, andDEVIN GEORGE, in hisofficial capacity as Louisiana State Registrar, Defendants.************************CIVIL ACTION NO. SECTION JUDGE MAGISTRATE JUDGE ********************************************
COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
1.Plaintiffs bring this action to challenge the constitutionality of Article XII, Section 15 of the Louisiana Constitution (the "Louisiana DOMA Amendment") and Article 3520(B) of the Louisiana Civil Code. These laws are collectively referred to hereafter as the "Louisiana Anti-Recognition Laws." 2.The Louisiana Anti-Recognition Laws prohibit Louisiana officials from recognizing the lawful marriages of same-sex couples enteredinto inanother jurisdiction where same-sex marriagesmay belegally celebrated. The Louisiana Anti-Recognition Laws exempt themarriages of gay, lesbian, and bisexual Louisianaresidentsfrom Louisiana's long-standing
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rule that amarriage that is valid where it was celebrated will be considered to be valid in Louisiana. 3.Plaintiffs bring this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for declaratory and injunctive relief because the Louisiana Anti-Recognition Laws violate Plaintiffs'rights of equal  protection and due process secured by the Fourteenth Amendment ofthe United States Constitution. As theLouisiana Anti-Recognition Laws have been applied by Defendant Tim Barfield, Secretary of the Louisiana Department ofRevenue, they also violate Plaintiffs'First Amendment right of free speech.4.Plaintiffs consist of fourmarried, same-sex couples and a nonprofit organization that advocates for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgenderLouisianaresidents. Each coupleis marriedunder the law of another stateorthe District of Columbia. Thesemarriages would be recognized by Defendants under Louisiana law but for the fact that the spouses are the same sex.5.The Louisiana Anti-Recognition Laws lack arational basis related to a legitimate governmental purpose.They "instruct[] [state] officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others."
United States v. Windsor,
133 S. Ct. 2675, 2696. The laws have no legitimate purpose that "overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure"same-sex couples.
 Id.
6.Louisiana's refusal to recognize same-sexmarriages undermines the rights,  protections,and financial securityof same-sex couples and their children. Same-sex couples in Louisiana cannot enjoy the legal rights, protections, and responsibilities of marriage that their opposite-sex counterparts take for granted. For example, the Louisiana State Registrar refuses to
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issuea birth certificate identifying both members of a same-sex couple as parents whena child is  born of the marriage. The Secretaryof the Louisiana Department of Revenue rejects joint tax returns filed by married same-sex couples, despite the fact that the spouses mayfile a joint federal income tax returnand are required to identify on the federal returnthat they are married. The Secretarywill accept ajoint return from a similarly situated opposite-sex couple, even if the opposite-sex couple's marriage was of a type that couldnot be legally celebrated in Louisiana. Louisiana's refusal to recognize the valid marriages of same-sex couples does not promote any legitimate policy objective and serves only to demean and harm the same-sex spouses and their children.7.Further, the Secretary's requirement that the spouses of a same-sex marriagemust signstate income tax returnsthat denytheir marital statusis anunconstitutionalcoercion of speech.8.Plaintiffs seek: (a) a declaration that the Louisiana Anti-Recognition Laws are unconstitutional, (b) an injunction against Defendants prohibiting them from enforcingthe Louisiana Anti-Recognition Laws and requiringthem to fully recognize the marriages of Plaintiffs, and (c) an award of attorneys'fees and costs in accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 1988.
PARTIES
9.Plaintiff FORUM FOR EQUALITY LOUISIANA, INC. (the "Forum") is a Louisiana nonprofit corporation with its primary office in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Forum is a social welfare organization within the meaning of Section 501(c)(4)of the Internal Revenue Code.10.In accordance with its bylaws, the Forum is a membership organization with dues-paying members. Each of the other Plaintiffs is a member of the Forum. The membership of the Forum also includes other individuals who live in Louisiana, who are married to a person
Case 2:14-cv-00327 Document 1 Filed 02/12/14 Page 3 of 34

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