No specific date to expect gay marriage licenses
BATON ROUGE -Gay couples in Louisiana won't be able to obtain official state marriage licenses for 25 days. The Clerk of Courts says they are waiting out the re-hearing period where the Supreme Court could hear the case again and make a different decision.
That put many couples marriages on hold, while some will travel to other states to make it official. Christopher Paixao and his partner were at the office. They were married last year, and he took his partner's name. Today he wanted to get his driver's licenses changed to match.
"I mean a piece of paper doesn't mean alot, it's more the sentimental value to me." said Paixao.
This is the third time Paixao's been to the office, and the third time he has been told no. He still doesn't know exactly when he will be able to make the switch. The office said they have to wait for a change in policy.
"The manager explained to me that they have to get some approval from the state." Paixao explained.
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said his office found nothing in the ruling which makes the Supreme Court's decision go into effect immediately, which he said means it's not a legal requirement for clerks of court in Louisiana to follow through with it.
"The Attorney General's Office will be watching for the Court to issue a mandate or order making today's decision final and effective and will issue a statement when that occurs," he said.
The state Clerk of Courts Association issued a recommendation Friday that clerks not issue marriage licenses until after the Supreme Court's 25-day rehearing period.
The Supreme Court's ruling found that marriage to same-sex couples cannot be denied and is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, and unions performed in one state must be recognized in other states. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said "(T)he reasons marriage is fundamental under the Constitution apply with equal force to same-sex couples."
Mississippi's attorney general also put a hold on the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples there. AG Jim Hood said the 5th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals must lift their hold on a lawsuit which challenged same-sex marriage bans before they can issue licenses.
Three lesbian couples obtained licenses and married Friday in Hattiesburg amid confusion over when weddings can legally begin. Reports say that leaves Louisiana as the sole state where same-sex couples were unable to obtain a license.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals also said they would hold off on making any changes to their practices. One of the arguments in the Supreme Court case was married couples were being denied their legal rights when it came to their spouse's care in a state which did not recognize same-sex marriage.
"Current provisions of Louisiana law remain intact until a final mandate is issued by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Until that happens, the Department will continue to follow Louisiana law," DHH said.
Meanwhile, people gathered Friday evening on the state Capitol steps for a rally celebrating the ruling and pushing for the removal of same-sex marriage hurdles in Louisiana. The rally was organized by a variety of Baton Rouge pride organizations.
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