NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge upheld Louisiana's ban on same-sex marriages Wednesday, a rare loss for gay marriage supporters who had won more than 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. His ruling was the first to uphold a state ban since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year.
In 2004, 78 percent of Louisiana voters approved an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage. Gay marriage is legal 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.
"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.