Same-sex marriage licenses on hold in Lafayette for now

Courtesy of The Advertiser

Same-sex couples in Lafayette may have to wait a while before tying the knot, according to Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court Louis Perret.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday legalized same-sex marriage in a 5-4 ruling, Perret said his office will not be selling licenses to couples until it receives word from the State of Louisiana.

“We will comply with the law, but it is uncertain yet and we are being advised not to issue the license yet,” he said.

Clerks of court in Caddo, Rapides and St. Landry parishes also are waiting to issue licenses.

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office said in a statement officials are not legally required to issue marriage licenses or perform marriages since the office found nothing in the high court’s ruling making the order effective immediately.

The AG’s office said it will release another statement if the Supreme Court issues a mandate making the ruling final and effective.

One issue at hand is the marriage license forms.

Perrett said the forms contain language referring to a bride and groom, and the office is waiting to see what to do about the wording.

St. Landry Clerk of Court Charles Jagneaux echoed Perrett’s concerns.

“What do you call the participants? I’m not being facetious. Do you call them ‘spouses?'” he said. “On the license it says ‘the groom’ and ‘the bride’ — there are little boxes to fill in. I’m guessing the state will have to deal with that.”

In a press release from the Department of Health and Hospitals, the department that handles these forms, officials said 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,” the statement read.

Brandon Robb, an attorney at Metairie-based law firm Delany & Robb, said he heard Louisiana clerks were being advised to wait until the 25-day window in which the Supreme Court can be asked to rehear cases is over before they issued licenses to same-sex couples.

“It’ll take a few days to shake out, but this is the law of the land now,” he said. “There’s no way this can be repealed short of an amendment to The Constitution.”

The historic decision brought much excitement to same-sex couples and marriage equality advocates across the state.

“Today’s historic Supreme Court ruling means same-sex couples will soon have the freedom to marry and equal respect for their marriages across America,” Equal Louisiana President Baylor Boyd said. “This is a momentous win for freedom, equality, inclusion and, above all, love.”

Ted Richard, former president of the Acadiana Pride Festival, said this is a historic day for marriage equality.

“This means I am equal to everyone else,” he said.

Although, Richard said, there’s still injustices gays and lesbians face every day such as workplace discrimination that must be fought.

“This is the beginning of a journey that will take many, many years,” he said.

Many of Louisiana’s top leaders disagree with the ruling.

Rep. Charles Boustany of Lafayette supports marriage between a man and a woman.

“Today’s decision imposes the will of the court upon the will of the states, creating an ongoing controversy, not a lasting solution,” Boustany said in a statement. “While I disagree with the court’s decision, I will work with my conservative colleagues to clarify the law to ensure this institution is protected for future generations.”

Gov. Bobby Jindal vowed he would “never stop fighting for religious liberty.”

Calling gay marriage a “states’ rights” issue, Jindal lambasted the Supreme Court for “trampling” on a state’s right to determine who can enjoy marriage. He added: “If we want to save some money let’s just get rid of the court.”

Jindal went a step further and said, “Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that.”

Caldwell said he’s disappointed.

“It fails to respect traditional marriage as defined by Louisiana voters, and is yet another example of the federal government intrusion into what should be a state issue,” he said.

Bishop Michael Jarrell with the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette called the ruling “irreconcilable with the nature and definition of marriage as established by Divine Law.”

He said in a press release that Catholic priests and deacons willed not be allowed to participate in any civil solemnization or celebration of marriage. He also urged Catholics to stay away from same-sex ceremonies.

We’ll continue to update this story throughout the day as it develops.

Cheryl Duvall and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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