A federal judge in Louisiana upheld the states ban on same-sex marriage breaking the current string of 20 consecutive rulings overturning bans in other states.
U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman also upheld the state’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states. in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
Feldman said gay marriage supporters failed to prove that ban violates equal protection or due process provisions of the U.S. Constitution. He also rejected an argument that the ban violated the First Amendment by effectively forcing legally married gay couples to state that they are single on Louisiana income tax returns.
Feldman sided with the state, which had argued that the nation’s high court, in the Defense of Marriage Act decision, recognized the rights of state voters and legislatures to define marriage.
“Although opinions about same-sex marriage will understandably vary among the states, and other states in free and open debate will and have chosen differently, that does not mandate that Louisiana has overstepped its sovereign authority,” he wrote
Feldman said the Supreme Court decision “correctly discredited” the Defense of Marriage Act’s effect on New York law legalizing same-sex unions. But, he also noted language in the decision outlining the states’ historic authority to recognize and define marriage.
He also said that neither the Supreme Court, nor the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, have defined gay people as a protected class in discrimination cases.
“In light of still-binding precedent, this Court declines to fashion a new suspect class. To do so would distort precedent and demean the democratic process.”
In June 22, 2010, Feldman issued a preliminary injunction blocking a six month moratorium on deep-water offshore drilling in Hornbeck Offshore Services LLC v. Salazar. Feldman’s 2008 financial disclosure indicated that, he owned stock in Transocean the company that owned the Deepwater Horizon rig, as well as in other oil companies which would be affected by the moratorium..
Judge Feldman’s 2009 financial disclosure report indicates that he had financial investments in multiple BlackRock funds, each valued under $15000, much like the prior year. Although Blackrock was said to be the largest holder of BP stock,it’s not clear that any of these funds held stock in BP. Feldman held stock in Exxon-Mobil during the hearing on the drilling moratorium and from June 8 to June 21, he issued several orders related to the moratorium case. On June 22, at the “opening of the stock market”, he reportedly sold his Exxon-Mobil stock. Hours later, he issued his ruling lifting the moratorium.