For those who have been following my columns about Robicheaux et al, our federal marriage lawsuit here in Louisiana, you well know the ups and downs that have been going on with our case. You’ve gotten to know us intimately through our personal stories and a look inside our lives. You’ve shared the joys and the disappointments that we have faced. Many of you have offered your financial support and given words of inspiration and hope.
After a long and stale month in the case, I am happy bring the good news of progress!
As of March 18 Judge Martin Feldman consolidated The Forum for Equality case with our case under the original Robicheaux et al. v. Caldwell case number. The only issues to be presented are those in common by the two sets of plaintiffs: Equal Protection and Due Process for recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages. The issues not in common — 1st Amendment issues the Forum presented, the right to be married in Louisiana, and Full Faith and Credit — will come under a separate scheduling order at a later time. Both sets of plaintiffs must present our motions for summary judgment and our supporting memo jointly within the 25-page limit – no exceptions. The schedule is as follows:
April 17th – Cross Motions for Summary Judgment Due
May 12th – Amicus Briefs Due
May 19th – Cross Responses to the Motions Due
June 2nd – Reply Deadline
June 25th The Court will hear Oral Arguments
In short, the matters have been consolidated; the Robicheaux et al. plaintiffs and the Forum Plaintiffs have the law offices of Scott Spivey, Esq., and Stone, Pigman, Walther, Wittmann, LLC, preparing the joint pleadings. We are happy to be working with the Forum, its plaintiffs, and its legal counsel to secure the rights we and other LGBT couples deserve here in Louisiana. This means that the matter remains fast-tracked for Judge Feldman to hear oral arguments on June 25th and rule on the issue of whether the federal courts have a right to tell Louisiana to redefine marriage under necessary circumstances, as they did in Loving v. Virginia in 1967
Louisiana will be required to show that their disparate treatment is rationally related to a legitimate state interest. However, the argument — by mandate of Judge Feldman — will not address marriage in Louisiana at this time. It will only be the recognition of same-sex couples who are married outside of Louisiana. Regardless of Judge Feldman’s ruling, we expect both sides to appeal ,putting us on track to the appeals court of the Fifth Circuit, possibly alongside the Texas case. We should anticipate a ruling by July and the matter before the 5th Circuit by August. You can read Judge Feldman’s order here.
If anyone or any organizations would like to file Amicus Briefs, please do not hesitate to contact us; Judge Feldman has welcomed all Amicus Briefs.
Thanks again for everyone’s support, we will keep you updated as the case moves forward!
Derek Penton, 35, is a native of Mississippi and a longtime resident of New Orleans. He holds degrees in computer information systems and paramedicine. After more than five years together, Penton and his husband, Jonathan Robicheaux, were legally married in Iowa on Sept. 23, 2012.
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