Following a judge's Wednesday ruling upholding a Louisiana amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, New Orleans' archbishop has affirmed the importance of ministering to persons who identify as part of the LGBT community. A federal judge in the state upheld its traditional marriage amendment Sept. 3, breaking a streak of more than 20 defeats in federal court for marriage amendments. The Louisiana amendment passed in 2004, with 78 percent of the vote. It defines marriage in the state as “only of the union of one man and one woman” and forbids the conferral of marriage or “the legal incidents thereof” on any other union. “It is my hope that through our pastoral ministry to the Catholic LGBT community we can minister to their spiritual needs and walk with them through their life journeys because as our brothers and sisters and children of God they must be loved and respected and always treated with dignity,” Archbishop Gregory Aymond told CNA Sept. 4. “The redefinition of marriage is a moral one for us as Catholics,” he added, commenting that “we as Catholics believe marriage is defined in the Bible and through our Catholic Church teaching as a union between a man and a woman.” District Judge Martin Feldman wrote in his decision that “the State of Louisiana has a legitimate interest under a rational basis standard of review for addressing the meaning of marriage through the democratic process,” and that the “defendants in this passionately charged national issue have the more persuasive argument.” Same-sex marriage “had no place at all in this nation’s history and tradition,” Feldman wrote, “until recent years.” Thus, “any right to same-sex marriage is not so entrenched as to be fundamental. There is simply no fundamental right, historically or traditionally, to same-sex marriage.” He added that the law met the court’s “rational basis review,” meaning the law is “rationally related to a legitimate state interest.” “Defendants rejoin that the laws serve a central state interest of linking children to an intact family formed by their biological parents. Of even more consequence, in this Court’s judgment, defendants assert a legitimate state interest in safeguarding that fundamental social change, in this instance, is better cultivated through democratic consensus. This Court agrees.” The National Organization for Marriage praised the decision as a “great win” for marriage. “What we saw this judge bravely standing up and doing is fighting against this false narrative that’s been perpetuated since the summer ruling on Windsor, that there’s somehow this constitutional mandate requirement for recognizing same-sex unions,” a spokesman for the organization told CNA. “We don’t believe that’s true,” he continued. “In fact, the legacy of the Windsor decision, the logic of the Windsor decision is that the states have every right to determine their marriage laws through the democratic process and that the courts shouldn’t impose a one-size-fits-all model on all 50 states, that America has always been the traditional purview of the individual states and not the federal government.” According to the National Organization for Marriage, Feldman was the third federal judge to have upheld traditional marriage laws, and that in August a judge in Tennessee ruled that under the U.S. constitution, the state is not barred from defining marriage traditionally via an amendment.
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