Equality is a prominent topic of debate. Although the gay and lesbian community has progressed, the fight for equality remains. Recognition and legalization of same-sex marriage still falls within the minority rule amongst the states, but will soon be the majority. California , Delaware , Connecticut , Hawaii , Illinois , Maine , Maryland , Massachusetts , Minnesota , New Hampshire , New Jersey , New Mexico , New York , Rhode Island , Vermont , Washington , Iowa , and Washington D.C. are marriage equality states. Colorado , Oregon , Nevada , and Wisconsin laws allow gay and lesbian couples to enter into a domestic partnership or civil union. I hope that other states, particularly states in the South, will follow suit in becoming marriage equality states.
In U.S. v. Windsor, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), which defined marriage between a man and woman. Many questions remain unanswered and decisions regarding the recognition of same-sex marriage remain with individual states, many of which do not recognize marriage equality. States adopt various rationales to prevent gay and lesbian couples from marrying including historical or traditional beliefs, legitimacy, and parentage beliefs. Louisiana falls within this category. In 2004, the Louisiana Legislature amended the constitution to state that marriage in Louisiana only exists between one man and one woman. The Louisiana Civil Code article governing marriage expressly states, marriage between people of the same sex is strongly against the public policy of the state. Furthermore, Louisiana will not recognize a same-sex marriage legally entered in another state. Although Louisiana has such conservative views regarding marriage equality, many gay and lesbian couples call it home.
Louisiana has become home to a growing number of gay and lesbian couples. According to a Census Snapshot Report, in 2005, 9,006 same-sex couples resided in Louisiana; about 25% reported raising children, giving an estimate of about 4,157 children in Louisiana living in homes with gay or lesbian parents. When gay and lesbian relationships end, the non-legal parent will not receive the same legal parentage protections as a straight non-legal parent. Although most jurisdictions provide some measure of protection, many jurisdictions lack protection for gay and lesbian’s parental rights. It is unfair for gay and lesbian parents to lose custody of their non-biological children because the court does not provide a consistent remedy for same sex parents throughout different states.
Issues of child custody are difficult because most laws concerning the family are state specific, leaving little consistency for same-sex parents, especially when different states have enacted different laws regulating parenting. Outside of the Supreme Court’s ruling that parents have a fundamental right to make decisions regarding the custody,...