Turns out same-sex couples looking to get a marriage license in New Orleans won’t have to wait until Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration allows state departments to begin recognizing the unions. Instead, they can just go to the West Bank.
Since last week, officials had indicated that the only way for same-sex couples to get a marriage license in Orleans Parish would be to go through the Office of Vital Records, a state agency that Jindal has ordered not to issue or record the documents until last Friday’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling is formally accepted by a federal appellate court.
But a provision in the law also allows city judges to issue marriage licenses, something that 2nd City Court Judge Teena Anderson-Trahan in Algiers has been doing for opposite-sex couples for years.
Anderson-Trahan was, with no fanfare, available to issue licenses and perform marriages on Monday, though the only same-sex couple who showed up did not have the proper paperwork to finish the application, said Civil District Court spokesman Walt Pierce.
The provision was unknown to many in the city and not formally announced by the judge herself. Instead, attention focused on the east bank-based 1st City Court’s symbiotic relationship with the marriage office.
City judges on the east bank are also technically empowered to grant marriage licenses, though they do not have the equipment or even the forms to do so, Pierce said. That’s largely because, until now, they didn’t have to — they could just direct couples to the marriage license office in the parish and have them come back when they needed a judge to officiate the ceremony.
The difficulties of setting up a system to handle marriage licenses means the 1st City Court on the east bank likely won’t be issuing licenses anytime soon.
Though no same-sex licenses have been issued yet in the city, New Orleans has already hosted its first gay wedding since the Supreme Court ruling. Michael Robinson and Earl Benjamin, who waited throughout the day on Friday in an unsuccessful attempt to get a license in Orleans Parish, headed to Jefferson Parish as soon as the clerk of court announced the suburb would become the first parish in the state to grant same-marriage licenses on Monday morning. The couple returned to New Orleans later in the day to be married.