Judge Martin Feldman
There’s something to be said for longevity. At 80 years of age you can say what you want to say and go down with all guns blazing. That’s my impression of a US federal judge who broke ranks with dozens of his brethren on Wednesday to defend the meaning of marriage, and ruled that Louisiana has no obligation to recognise same-sex unions as marriage.
USA Today reports:
The ruling came from District Judge Martin Feldman, 80, who was named to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan more than 30 years ago. He echoed the two judges — both in their 70s and appointed by President George H.W. Bush — who dissented from recent rulings against Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia gay marriage bans in the 10th and 4th Circuits.
There might be other septuagenarians and octogenarians in the judiciary who have joined the majority’s Mexican wave in favour of gay marriage, but intimations of mortality must be a help if you feel you really ought to fold your arms.
And Feldman did more. He dismissed the 20-plus federal rulings in favour same-sex marriage since the Supreme Court’s Windsor ruling last year “a pageant of empathy”. He said the traditional meaning of marriage – still maintained in the majority of states — was not irrational. He upheld states’ rights to regulate marriage, and the democratic processes that involves.
* Same-sex marriage was “nonexistent and even inconceivable until very recently,” Feldman said in his 32-page ruling. For that reason, he said, it is not a fundamental right that states must uphold despite constitutional or legislative bans.
* “The court is persuaded that a meaning of what is marriage that has endured in history for thousands of years, and prevails in a majority of states today, is not universally irrational…”
* The Windsor decision, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, “references an amorphous but alluring ‘evolving understanding of the meaning of equality,'” Feldman said. Nevertheless, he noted, it upheld states’ rights to regulate marriage.
* “This court has arduously studied the volley of nationally orchestrated court rulings” against democratically approved gay marriage bans, he said. “The federal court decisions thus far exemplify a pageant of empathy; decisions impelled by a response of innate pathos.”
* “Louisiana’s laws and Constitution are directly related to achieving marriage’s historically preeminent purpose of linking children to their biological parents…”
* If states can’t do that, Feldman said, they may not be able to prohibit marriage among minors, groups of people or members of the same family. After all, he said, “all such unions would undeniably be equally committed to love and caring for one another.”
His decision is being appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, perhaps the nation’s most conservative appellate court, and from there it could go, with others, to the Supreme Court.