Lafayette Citizen Born Abroad Sues Over “Discriminatory” Law
A Lafayette, Louisiana man is suing over a state law that requires couples seeking marriage licenses to present a birth certificate, which can pose a problem for those born outside the US. 31-year-old Victor Vo of Lafayette has lived in this country since he was 3 months old and became a U.S. citizen when he was eight and recently had his marriage license application rejected by a court clerk.
Attorney Marley Ann Brumme is representing Vo and says the law is unconstitutional and discriminatory.
“By preventing foreign-born people like Mr. Vo from waiving the birth certificate requirement when people born here can waive it, the current law unconstitutionally discriminates against those born abroad,” Brumme said.
Denham Springs Representative Valarie Hodges wrote the 2015 law in question. She says it’s an effort to prevent marriage fraud. But Brumme says the law is overstepping the state’s authority.
“The power to regulate immigration, including marriage fraud related to immigration, rests exclusively with the United States, not with Louisiana,” Brumme said.
Hodges says no law is perfectly written, and she is committed to tweaking the language if necessary. But managing director of the New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice, Audrey Stewart, says Louisiana has a long history of discriminating against immigrants.
“Attacking the right of immigrants to marry in Louisiana it part of an attrition strategy intent on making the state of Louisiana uninhabitable to immigrants by denying basic dignity and access to rights,” Stewart said.
Hodges says she is working with Attorney General Jeff Landry to ensure that those who are in this country legally are encouraged and able to get married in Louisiana, whether they are native born or legal immigrants.