Judge blocks Louisiana marriage law
BATON ROUGE, La. — A federal judge has permanently blocked a Louisiana law that prevented foreignborn U.S. citizens from getting married if they couldn’t produce their birth certificates.
U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle’s ruling resolves a lawsuit Lafayette resident Viet Anh Vo filed last year after he and his U.S.-born fiancee had their application for a marriage license rejected two weeks before their wedding.
The permanent injunction benefits anyone whom the 2016 law prevented from obtaining a marriage license.
The judge initially blocked enforcement of the statute in March, pending Tuesday’s final ruling. Lawmakers responded in June by allowing marriage license applicants to get judicial waivers if they can’t produce their birth certificates. But Lemelle said the new law, which took effect Aug. 1, preserved other unconstitutional provisions, such as passport and visa requirements, that apply only to foreign-born citizens.
The state failed to demonstrate a “compelling governmental interest” in creating a two-tiered system based on whether a citizen was born inside or outside the U.S., he said.
“The State of Louisiana is not harmed by having to issue a marriage license to, in this case, a United States citizen who merely lacks a birth certificate due to circumstances beyond his control,” Lemelle wrote, adding that the right to marriage is “fundamental.”
Tugboats guide a barge, laden with a $195 million heat-recovery steam generator, past the Statue of Liberty on Tuesday in New York.