- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 21, 2004

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A state judge has ruled that a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriages” and civil unions is unconstitutional and must be taken off the Sept. 18 ballot.

Civil District Court Judge Christopher Bruno said late Friday the proposed amendment is unconstitutional because it addresses more than one issue and would appear on a ballot that was not on a statewide election date.

Several cases involving the proposals are circulating through various courts. The issue is likely to be resolved at the state Supreme Court, said legal observers.

Judge Bruno agreed with opponents of the amendment that it illegally focuses on multiple objectives — not just outlawing homosexual “marriages” but also civil unions and other legal relationships that bestow “the incidents of marriage.”

Jeanne LeBlanc, a plaintiff, testified earlier Friday before Judge Bruno that her custody rights to her lesbian partner’s two children would be put in question if the amendment passes. Her partner, Jean Glass, has a will in which the custody of her sons, ages 1 and 4, passes to Miss LeBlanc if Miss Glass is unable to take care of the children, Miss LeBlanc said.

Should the amendment pass, Miss LeBlanc said outside court, “it could happen that a family member comes along and says, ‘No, I’m not letting a lesbian take care of this child.’”

John Sullivan, a lawyer who specializes in drawing up documents for unmarried couples, testified that a plethora of contracts he handles could be invalidated if the amendment passes.

Supporters of the amendment, which sailed through the Louisiana Legislature, say the measure’s language does not necessarily jeopardize such contracts.

“All of this is pure speculation, and a judge has not ruled on it yet,” said J. Michael Johnson, a lawyer for the conservative Alliance Defense Fund.

“The issue before the court is a legal issue, and that is: Is this proposed amendment lawfully installed on the ballot? And do the people have a right to vote on this? And the answer clearly is ‘yes’ to both,” Mr. Johnson said.

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