Louisiana Reacts To Court’s Gay Marriage Decisions
NEW ORLEANS - Legally married to her longtime partner in Canada in 2007, Kelly Bryson is talking about a second wedding - in the U.S. this time - after Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling striking down a law denying federal benefits to married gay couples.
"My plan is for us to get married - I think New York does not have a residency requirement - to get married there and I absolutely think that the federal benefits will follow," said Bryson.
The FBI agent in New Orleans spoke hours after the high court Wednesday struck down a major portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act while clearing the way for the resumption of gay marriages in California.
Same-sex marriage and civil unions remain illegal in Louisiana. And the full implications of the decision were not entirely clear for people living outside the 13 states where gay marriage is recognized.
"Outside of these states, federal marriage benefits become more complicated, as many commonly thought-of federal benefits, such as jointly filing on federal income taxes, are tied to a married couple’s place of residence," the National Conference of State Legislatures said in a news release.
Still, Bryson was cheered by the Supreme Court action and expects benefits she has as a federal employee will be extended to her partner, Erica Knott, and their sons, ages 6 and 7, once they are married in the U.S.
John Hill, spokesman for Forum For Equality, which supports rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, said the group began discussions with attorneys Wednesday on what the law means in Louisiana and whether any federal rights denied in the state might someday be fodder for a new challenge to Louisiana’s gay marriage ban.
In contrast, the decision brought swift, sharp criticism from U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, who, as a state legislator, sponsored the amendment banning same-sex marriages and civil unions.
"It is a sad day when the same court that upheld Obamacare decides to reverse course on thousands of years of tradition and a strong bipartisan coalition in Congress by striking down the Defense of Marriage Act," said Scalise, R-Jefferson. "This Supreme Court ruling marks a low point in judicial activism where unelected judges turned against traditional marriage which has been a hallmark of American society since our nation’s founding."