NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A federal judge upheld Louisiana's ban on same-sex marriages on Wednesday, as well as the state's refusal to recognize gay marriages legally performed in other states.<br />
U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman's ruling broke a string of 20-plus court wins for supporters of same-sex marriage since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year. Feldman said gay marriage supporters failed to prove that the ban violates equal protection or due process provisions of the 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.<br />
Furthermore, states have the right to define the institution of marriage, Feldman wrote.<br />
Forum for Equality Louisiana spokesman John Hill said an appeal is planned.<br />
Both sides in the case, which consolidated multiple challenges to Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban, had supported their arguments by pointing to the U.S. Supreme Court's Defense of Marriage Act ruling.<br />
Attorneys for same-sex couples said the ruling in U.S. v. Windsor supports the contention that Louisiana's failure to recognize legal same-sex marriages violates constitutional due process and equal-protection rights.<br />
The state argued that the Windsor opinion clearly upholds the rights of state voters and legislatures to define marriage and that the federal government must recognize the states' rights to do so.<br />
Feldman sided with the state.
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
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