By Arun Kumar
A defiant Bobby Jindal has finally fallen in line after a third court told Louisiana’s Indian-American governor that he must abide by the US Supreme Court ruling that states cannot prevent same-sex marriages.
The Republican presidential candidate had held off on abiding by the top court’s ruling until a lower federal court ordered the state to do so Thursday, leaving him no legal path to maintain the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
After the court ruling, Louisiana officials stopped enforcing the state’s same-sex marriage ban and started issuing marriage licenses.
Immediately after the apex court ruled last week that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, a defiant Jindal’s spokesman Mike Reed had said his state would not allow such marriages unless “the courts order us otherwise”.
Jindal’s administration argued it is possible the Supreme Court’s ruling didn’t apply to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, where Louisiana had been defending its statewide ban.
But on Thursday, Reed told BuzzFeed News that the local court order directs state agencies “to comply and all questions about processing benefits should be directed to them”.
Earlier, Jindal’s presidential campaign too denounced the Supreme Court decision as an “all out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree”.
Jindal’s office also said Louisiana’s policy would remain unchanged until the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals acted, adding that officials could continue to decline issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on religious grounds.
“If any such state employee or official who asserts a religious objection is faced with a legal challenge for doing so, numerous attorneys have committed to defend their rights free of charge, subject to the facts of each case,” Jindal’s office said in a memo.
Though Jindal acknowledged on NBC Sunday that “We don’t have a choice” and “Our agencies will comply with the court order”, Louisiana state agencies continued to decline to issue licenses to same-sex couples.
Then on Wednesday, the 5th Circuit directed district courts in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas to issue orders ending enforcement of same-sex marriage bans.
But even then, Reed said state agencies would “follow the Louisiana Constitution until the District Court orders us otherwise”.
On Thursday, the Eastern District Court of Louisiana issued that ruling and Jindal fell in line.