Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Louisiana's Constitutional Amendment

Marriage in the state of Louisiana shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman. No official or court of the state of Louisiana shall construe this constitution or any state law to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any member of a union other than the union of one man and one woman. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized. No official or court of the state of Louisiana shall recognize any marriage contracted in any other jurisdiction which is not the union of one man and one woman.

Louisiana Constitution, Article 12, Section 15.

So reads the Louisiana Constitution as it was amended by the voters of Louisiana in September of 2004. This amendment passed by a vote of 619,908 for to 177,067 against (78% in favor). In Orleans Parish, which is the city of New Orleans, the vote was 46,357 for and 38,500 against (54.6% in favor).

What does this language mean for members of the APSA who may be expected to travel to New Orleans for an annual meeting in 2012? The problem is that right now, no one knows. If a gay APSA member becomes ill and has to go to a hospital, will his partner in New York be allowed to make medical decisions for him? If a lesbian graduate student who has insurance benefits through her partner's job has an accident, will the hospital recognize her coverage? If a non-married couple's child travels with them to the meetings and has an emergency, will city officials respect both parents' legal relationship as a form of parental authority?

The city has issued a statement that it will not enforce Amendment One, but it's not clear what that means yet. Perhaps it will be clear by 2012, for better or worse. But perhaps it won't.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I understand the seriousness of the isues at stake. But I also would like to point out that the Louisiana Constitution contains numerous provisions which would appear to have little impact on the real world.

For example- Section 27. Freedom to Hunt, Fish and Trap

Section 27. The freedom to hunt, fish, and trap wildlife, including all aquatic life, traditionally taken by hunters, trappers and anglers, is a valued natural heritage that shall be forever preserved for the people. Hunting, fishing and trapping shall be managed by law and regulation consistent with Article IX, Section I of the Constitution of Louisiana to protect, conserve and replenish the natural resources of the state. The provisions of this Section shall not alter the burden of proof requirements otherwise established by law for any challenge to a law or regulation pertaining to hunting, fishing or trapping the wildlife of the state, including all aquatic life. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to authorize the use of private property to hunt, fish, or trap without the consent of the owner of the property.

Added by Acts 2004, No. 927, §1, approved Nov. 2, 2004, eff. Dec. 7, 2004.

I suggest an examination of actual court cases to get an idea of the real impact of provisions of the Lousiana Constituion. These clauses should be interpreted in the context of actual legal and administrative practice.