Robicheaux v. George

Consolidated with Forum for Equality Louisiana v. Barfield

What's Happening:

On January 9, 2015, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit heard oral arguments in three federal marriage cases, including this case, one from Texas and one from Mississippi. A ruling is still pending in the cases.

Case Background:

On July 16, 2013, private lawyers in New Orleans, LA filed a federal lawsuit in the 5th Circuit on behalf of a same-sex couple seeking respect for their marriage in Louisiana. The couple, Jon Robicheaux and Derek Penton, married in Iowa in 2012 and need their home state of Louisiana to respect their marriage. The case was originally called Robicheaux v. Caldwell. 

On December 2, 2013, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman dismissed the lawsuit, explaining that the plaintiffs only named Attorney General James Caldwell as a defendant. The plaintiffs said they now plan to amend the complaint and name Secretary of the State Department of Revenue, Tim Barfiled, as the defendant. On January 13, 2014, attorneys in the case filed a new federal lawsuit, naming state officials in the Department of Health and Hospitals, and the Department of Revenue, as plaintiffs.

On February 12, 2014, the Forum for Equality Louisiana filed a separate lawsuit in federal court on behalf of four same-sex couples seeking respect for their legal marriages in Louisiana. Several of the couples - including Andrew & Nick and Jackie & Lauren - are raising young children in New Orleans, and their lawsuit reflects that having their marriages disrespected in Louisiana poses potential legal challenges - and challenges they have already been burdened with - for their family. 

On March 18, 2014, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman moved to consolidate the two cases under the Robicheaux name. A Motion for Summary Judgment was due April 17, and an oral argument was held on June 25. Shortly after, Judge Feldman requested additional briefs in order to fully consider the marriage amendment in Louisiana. 

On September 3, 2014,  U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman became the first federal judge since June 2013 to uphold marriage discrimination in this federal case seeking the freedom to marry and respect for marriages performed in other states. The plaintiffs have appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which scheduled an oral argument for January 9, 2015.

On October 7, 2014, Lambda Legal joined as counsel on this case.

On January 12, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of the Robicheaux case, which filed a petition seeking review prior to judgment. Earlier in 2014, the plaintiffs in the case filed a petition for certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, asking the court to grant review of their case prior to judgment from the 5th Circuit. The state of Louisiana had also filed a response brief urging SCOTUS to take the case, but the case was denied review.

Costanza and Brewer v. Caldwell

What's Happening:

On September 22, 2014, Judge Edward Rubin of the 15th Judicial District Court ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in this state legal challenge to an amendment in Louisiana that denies same-sex couples the freedom to marry. The ruling granted a same-sex couple's second-parent adoption and affirmed that the Louisiana amendment violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.

On September 25, the state of Louisiana appealed, which put the ruling on hold.

Case Background:

Private lawyers filed a lawsuit in state court on behalf of one same-sex couple seeking to have their marriage respected by the state of Louisiana and the ability for one mother to legally adopt her son. Judge Edward B. Broussard dismissed the case on July 26, 2013, and the case was appealed.

The plaintiffs are Angela Marie Costanza and Chastity Shanelle Brewer, who live in Lafayette, Louisiana and had legally married in California. 

On February 5, Judge Edward Rubin granted a reversal of the lower court ruling, granting the second-parent adoption. The Louisiana Attorney General appealed the ruling, the decision was vacated and remanded for a full hearing of the constitutional issues presented, including claims seeking respect for the couple's marriage. 

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