Louisiana Man Sues to Strike Down Unconstitutional State Law Blocking Immigrants from Marrying. The lawsuit is Vo v. Gee, et al.

A Louisiana man is challenging an unconstitutional state law that denies some immigrants in the state the fundamental right to a legal marriage.

Viet “Victor” Anh Vo filed the lawsuit Vo v. Gee, et al. in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana today after he and his partner were prevented from obtaining a marriage license in multiple Louisiana parishes because of a state law that requires any foreign-born person to present a certified birth certificate to obtain a marriage license. He is represented pro bono by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ), and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom LLP.

Vo, 31, is a U.S. citizen and has been a resident of Louisiana since he was three months old, but he was never issued an official birth certificate because he was born in a refugee camp in Indonesia after his parents fled Vietnam. His partner, Heather Pham, also is a U.S. citizen.

“I’ve lived in Louisiana nearly all my life and had been dating Heather for over 10 years before we decided to get married,” said Vo, who had a ceremony in the Catholic tradition last year. “I was shocked and disappointed to find out that I couldn’t legally marry her in my home town in Louisiana.”