Louisiana’s spiteful marriage law is good for nothing but stigmatizing refugees

“We don’t want terrorists obtaining green cards and citizenship through marriage.” That was the rationale behind Louisiana’s ban on issuing marriage licenses to foreign-born applicants who cannot produce birth certificates, according to the state legislator who sponsored the law. In reality, the ban, which took effect this year, does nothing to combat terrorism. Its effect has been to deny licenses to dozens of refugees, primarily from Southeast Asia, who have no way of obtaining birth certificates.

The law is no more than an expression of hostility toward immigrants and refugees, similar to the poisonous rhetoric that has been directed toward refugees of the civil war in Syria. It is echoed in the unnecessary bans on Shariah law passed by at least nine states out of fear that it might somehow override the U.S. and state constitutions, and in the hostility toward providing basic health care for undocumented immigrants.

Advertisement

In the closing days of the presidential campaign, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo of Seattle, chairman of the Committee on Migration of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote that Catholics “have a special responsibility to reject the hostility that dominates the public conversation about immigration today.” The Louisiana marriage license law, which panders to xenophobic voters, is now being challenged in court by a man who was born to Vietnamese parents in an Indonesian refugee camp and became a U.S. citizen at the age of 8. The law should be overturned or repealed, and the waste of time and money in enacting and defending the law should stand as a deterrent to similarly pointless legislation.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Vincent Gaglione
1 year 6 months ago
How ironic. How much would anyone like to wager that the legislators who sponsored the legislation would be the first to agree that the Obama administration is stifling religious liberty? The hypocrisy is beyond shame.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies at a House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
The Secretary of Education stirred up controversy when she said it was up to schools to decide if an undocumented student should be reported to authorities.
J.D. Long-GarcíaMay 25, 2018
Thousands gathered in Dublin May 12 to say "Love Both" and "Vote No" to abortion on demand. They were protesting abortion on demand in the forthcoming referendum May 25. (CNS photo/John McElroy)
“Priests and bishops get verbal abuse by being told, ‘How can you speak for women? You don’t know what it’s like!’”
America StaffMay 25, 2018
The coffin containing the body of St. John XXIII is seen during a ceremony in Vittorio Veneto Square after its arrival in Bergamo, Italy, May 24. The body of the late pope left the Vatican on May 24 to be displayed in his home region until June 10. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

BERGAMO, Italy (CNS) — Accompanied by Bishop Francesco Beschi of Bergamo and escorted by both Italian and Vatican police officers, the glass coffin containing the body of St. John XXIII left the Vatican early on May 24 for a 370-mile drive to Bergamo.

On this week's episode, we talk with Lieutenant Governor of Washington State, Cyrus Habib.
Olga SeguraMay 25, 2018