NEW ORLEANS – The Louisiana Supreme Court (search) has been asked to take up legal challenges aimed at keeping a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriages (search) and civil unions off the Sept. 18 ballot.
On Thursday, a court clerk initially said it had refused to take the appeals, but later said that report was in error and no decision had been made.
Three separate lawsuits were filed on behalf of a group called Forum for Equality (search), arguing that the "Defense of Marriage" amendment (search) is unconstitutional because it would deprive unmarried couples — gay or straight — of the right to enter into certain contracts. Supporters of the ban disagree.
All three suits, so far unsuccessful at removing the amendment from the ballot, are now pending before the high court which has not decided whether to hear the appeals.
The amendment, passed by state lawmakers earlier this year, would also ban state officials and courts from recognizing out-of-state marriages and civil unions between homosexuals.
The legal battle had focused on technical arguments, including whether any election can be challenged before it takes place and whether the amendment illegally promotes more than one objective — banning both same-sex marriages and civil unions. Constitutional amendments are required to deal with a single topic.
Also Wednesday, the North Dakota secretary of state's office announced that supporters of an amendment banning gay marriage had gathered enough signatures to force a November vote.
A petition circulated by the North Dakota Family Alliance had 42,093 legal signatures, considerably more than the 25,688 needed to put the idea on the November ballot, Secretary of State Al Jaeger said.