updated 10/5/2004 5:44:44 PM ET 2004-10-05T21:44:44

A state judge Tuesday threw out a constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage in Louisiana, less than three weeks after voters overwhelmingly approved it.

District Judge William Morvant said the amendment was flawed as drawn up by the Legislature because it had more than one purpose: banning not only same-sex marriage, but also civil unions.

Michael Johnson, an attorney for supporters of the amendment, said he would appeal the ruling.

A gay rights group called Forum for Equality had challenged the amendment on several grounds, arguing among other things that combining the question of same-sex marriage and the issue of civil unions in one ballot question violated state law.

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“Somebody got greedy and wanted to stick something else in. They got caught with their hand in the cookie jar,” said John Rawls, an attorney for the group.

The courts had rejected a similar argument before the Sept. 18 election, saying it was premature.

Amendment passed strongly
About 78 percent of those voting favored the amendment . The vote was part of a national backlash against same-sex marriage, which followed last year’s Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex couples to wed.

Proposals to restrict marriage to a man and a woman are on the ballot in November in 11 states: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah. Voters in Missouri, like those in Louisiana, overwhelmingly approved such an amendment earlier this year.

The Louisiana Legislature pushed through the proposed ban this spring. Louisiana already had a law against same-sex marriage, but conservatives warned that unless it was put in the state constitution, a Louisiana court could one day follow the Massachusetts example.

Christian conservatives launched a vigorous grass-roots campaign to secure passage.

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