New Orleans: Blue Dot, Red State



In 2004, more than a dozen states, including Louisiana, passed constitutional amendments explicitly outlawing same-sex marriage (though the only state where it was legal then was Massachusetts). In that election, more than 77 percent of Louisiana voters opted to outlaw not only same-sex marriage, but also any form of civil union. The parish where the vote was closest was Orleans, with 55 percent of voters in favor of the ban and 45 percent against.

  A breakdown of current parish-by-parish opinion on the matter isn't available, but a June 2014 survey of Louisiana voters by Public Policy Polling (PPP) found a near-three-way tie in Louisiana. According to PPP, 34 percent of respondents supported civil unions for gays and lesbians; 32 percent, no recognition of those relationships; and 28 percent supported same-sex marriage — all pretty much within the poll's margin of error.

  Despite an unfriendly state-wide climate, New Orleans already had enacted policies that offered support to same-sex couples. In the 1990s, under Mayor Marc Morial's administration, the city created a domestic partner registry and offered insurance benefits to the partners of same-sex city employees — policies that were challenged but upheld in state courts through the 2000s.

  Last year, Mayor Mitch Landrieu — long a supporter for civil unions for same-sex couples — quietly shifted his position to full marriage. In a statement to Gambit, Landrieu aide Tyler Gamble wrote, "The Mayor has long supported ending marriage discrimination at all levels of government. ... The City has an interest in strengthening and supporting all caring, committed and responsible family forms, which is why the City signed an amicus brief in support of the Robicheaux case now pending in federal court."

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