Last Modified: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 2:18 PM
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — U.S. Supreme Court decisions striking a law that denied federal benefits to married gay couples and clearing the way for resumption of gay marriage in California were celebrated by gay rights activists in Louisiana. They were harshly criticized by the author of the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
SarahJane Brady, director of the Forum For Equality in New Orleans, acknowledged that the decision doesn't legalize gay marriage in Louisiana. Still, she called the action "a massive victory."
"I actually think I let out a holler when I saw it," Brady said.
The organization planned a celebration Wednesday in the French Quarter.
Spokesman John Hill said members would meet with lawyers to determine how the action will affect same-sex couples who live in Louisiana but wed in states where gay marriage is legal. They also will discuss whether the decisions will provide fodder for any new legal challenges of Louisiana's gay marriage ban.
"While this is a joyous day for many married couples and families, Louisiana remains one of 37 states that still treat lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens and their children as unequal and second-class," the group said in a news release.
Meanwhile, Rep. Steve Scalise, author of the Louisiana Constitution's ban on gay marriage and civil unions, decried the court's decision on the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
"It is a sad day when the same court that upheld Obamacare decides to reverse course on thousands of years of tradition and a strong bipartisan coalition in Congress by striking down the Defense of Marriage Act," Scalise said. "This Supreme Court ruling marks a low point in judicial activism where unelected judges turned against traditional marriage which has been a hallmark of American society since our nation's founding."
The amendment Scalise sponsored as a member of the Louisiana Legislature, before he was elected to Congress, was passed by 78 percent of those voting in a 2004 election. Hill believes attitudes that prevailed then are changing, even in conservative Louisiana. He points to a Public Policy Polling survey conducted Feb. 8-12. The automated telephone poll of 603 Louisiana voters showed that, while 59 percent said same-sex marriage should not be allowed, 25 percent said it should, and another 29 percent said same-sex civil unions should be allowed.
The poll, which PPP said was not paid for by any campaign or political group, had a margin for error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.