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Robicheaux et al. Navigating Judge Feldman’s Rough Waters



Our own Derek Penton-Robicheaux, plaintiff in the Louisiana marriage equality lawsuit that had its request for summary judgement dismissed by a federal judge this week – the first federal court to rule against same-sex marriage since last year’s DOMA decision – shares his thoughts upon hearing the judge’s decision.  






Before the Court are cross motions for summary judgment. The Court finds that defendants in this passionately charged national issue have the more persuasive argument. The State of Louisiana has a legitimate interest under a rational basis standard of review for addressing the meaning of marriage through the democratic process. For the reasons that follow, plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment is DENIED and defendants’ motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.



derek2.jpgThose were the first words I read in the order of our same-sex marriage case on Wednesday morning, at around 10:30 a.m. And with those words, came the feeling of someone kicking me in the gut.  Little did I know, those words alone wouldn’t be the cause of the worst pain that I would feel that day.

We were very busy on the ambulance that morning, part of the sacrifice that EMS personnel make in our duty to be there for others. I was not able to spend an emotional moment with my husband, to wrap my arms around him and say hey, it’s okay, we will keep going. I was in the middle of taking a patient to the hospital when the text came across my phone to check my email. It would be another 10 minutes before I would ever get to that email, but once I did, it set the tone for the entire day. The email contained the order from Judge Martin Feldman upholding Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage, the very same ban, which we have fought to strike down since July 16, 2014. Judge Feldman wrote in his order,

“It would no doubt be celebrated to be in the company of the near-unanimity of the many other federal courts that have spoken to this pressing issue, if this Court were confident in the belief that those cases provide a correct guide. Clearly, many other courts will have an opportunity to take up the issue of same-sex marriage; courts of appeals and, at some point, the U.S. Supreme Court. The decision of this Court is but one studied decision among many. Our Fifth Circuit has not yet spoken.”

 Feldman continued on, asking where the line would be drawn,

“Perhaps, in the wake of today’s blurry notion of evolving understanding, the result is ordained.

Perhaps in a new established point of view, marriage will be reduced to contract law, and, by contract, anyone will be able to claim marriage. Perhaps that is the next frontier, the next phase of some “evolving understanding of equality,” where what is marriage will be explored. And as plaintiffs vigorously remind, there have been embattled times when the federal judiciary properly inserted itself to correct a wrong in our society. But that is an incomplete answer to today’s social issue. When a federal court is obliged to confront a constitutional struggle over what is marriage, a singularly pivotal issue, the consequence of outcomes, intended or otherwise, seems an equally compelling part of the equation. It seems unjust to ignore. And so, inconvenient questions persist. For example, must the states permit or recognize a marriage between an aunt and niece? Aunt and nephew? Brother/brother? Father and child? May minors marry? Must marriage be limited to only two people? What about a transgender spouse? Is such a union same-gender or male-female? All such unions would undeniably be equally committed to love and caring for one another, just like the plaintiffs.”

And with those words, he cut every same-sex marriage so deep, with his archaic mindset likening us to incest, pedophilia, and polygamy. In those very words he disregarded every same-sex marriage in this state. It was the worse pain you can inflict on someone. Invalidating someone’s family, my family, saying to us you are less than equal, you are second class citizens. Never the less, I am not shocked nor am I surprised. He wrote on, leading one to believe that he doesn’t hold the view that homosexuals are born the way they are, rather so, they choose this “lifestyle”.

“This national same-sex marriage struggle animates a clash between convictions regarding the value of state decisions reached by way of the democratic process as contrasted with personal, genuine, and sincere lifestyle choices recognition.”

 You can read his full order here.

While we’ve always known this was a possibility, we held high hopes that our judge would follow in the footsteps of his colleagues who clearly, and rightfully so, disagree with him. Just one day after Feldman’s ruling, a three judge panel from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in a unanimous decision, upheld the lower court’s decision striking two bans down in Indiana and Wisconsin. 

One of those judges, a fellow Reagan appointee in 1981, Richard Posner, stated in his court “It was tradition to not allow blacks and whites to marry – a tradition that got swept away.” And that same-sex marriage bans were based on both “a tradition of hate and savage discrimination.”

While we were discouraged with Feldman’s ruling, we didn’t beat ourselves up over this setback. We joined other folks that afternoon at a rally put on by several organizations, in the iconic Jackson Square of the French Quarter. Along with all the others present, we know there is hope and there is a light at the end of the tunnel and we know that it’s not a train. The light is marriage equality for all.

It feels like yesterday we were setting off in new territory: the Robicheaux plaintiffs. Ours was the first federal same-sex lawsuit to be filed in Louisiana. We had nothing but the Windsor decision, but rightly so, it was the “winds” in our sails, pushing us into uncharted territory, at a time when there were no decisions in front of us lighting the waters. We traveled on a boat with a clear destination but with no map to guide us, only our love and the dream of equality in our hearts. Yes, we’ve hit some rough waters, but we stay the course and we keep going, with that new land in sight.

kiss.jpgAs I sit here and write this with an enlightened and no longer heavy heart, we prepare to file our notice of appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. First and foremost, I would like to thank my husband for being the rock that he is. Without him, I don’t know where I’d be. I’ve loved you dearly since day one and cannot wait to renew our vows in front of our family and friends here in Louisiana when this marriage equality battle has been won. I’d like to thank our co-plaintiffs Courtney and Nadine Blanchard for jumping in this boat with us without hesitation. I can’t express how much you mean to us and people we consider family. I’d like to thank everyone who has supported us since the beginning, your kind words and shoulders to lean on have meant so much to us in those frustrating times. Your encouragement has kept me from pulling out my hair some days. I would like to say thank you, we love you, and we will get this done.

Please go like our Facebook page, share and encourage your friends to the same, we draw a great source of encouragement through that page, and you can find the most current updates there as well.

We also ask that you consider making a donation to help us continue our fight. Donations can be made on our website on the donations page. There are many donation options and every dollar counts. If you know someone else who can make a donation ask them to donate as well.

As for us now, we move forward. We march on. I’ve said it time and time again, this is a long journey, on a long road to equality, and this is but a small bump in that long road. A friend of mine, Rikki Gee, pulled me aside on Wednesday night after the rally, and once we were done with our weekly game of primetime trivia, she gave me a quote of inspiration. The quote oddly enough, came from the 1991 movie “Necessary Roughness,” which I think fits perfectly. Equality is but a long game; we move forward. We may get knocked down, even pushed around, but in the end we will reach our goal. I’d like to leave you with that line, from my heart to all of your hearts, across the country and around the globe

You’re hurt. You’re tired. You’re bleeding. I’m gonna make you a promise. We get into that end zone, you’re not gonna feel any pain.




Derek Penton-Robicheaux, 36, 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, Derek and his husband, Jonathan Penton-Robicheaux, were legally married in Iowa on Sept. 23, 2012. The two are the first plaintiffs involved in the Federal Same-Sex Marriage Lawsuit in Louisiana, Robicheaux et al. v Caldwell.



Photos by Steven Mora 

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‘Unlawful Incursion’: Manhattan DA Schools Jim Jordan for Demanding He Testify in Ongoing Trump Investigation



Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg served up an extensive lesson in American jurisprudence Thursday in his response to House Republican Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan’s letter demanding he provide communications and testify before Congress on his ongoing investigation into Donald Trump’s hush money payoff to Stormy Daniels.

Jordan’s demand was seen by legal experts as a “purely political attack.” They note Jordan has no constitutional oversight authority over a duly-elected county district attorney.

Bragg is respectfully refusing Jordan’s demands.

Thorough his office’s General Counsel, Bragg sent Jordan a five-page letter (below) filled with numerous citations of federal and state law and legal decisions up to and including from the U.S. Supreme Court, that offer the Judiciary Chairman instruction in the law and that support the District Attorney’s refusal.

READ MORE: ‘Going Full Fascist’: Morning Joe Blasts Trump’s Latest ‘Dehumanizing’ Attack on Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg

In Bragg’s response, he calls Jordan’s letter “an unprecedented inquiry into a pending local prosecution,” and notes it “only came after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day, and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene.” He tells Jordan, “if charges are brought … it will be because the rule of law and faithful execution of the District Attorney’s duty require it.”

Jordan, who refused to comply with a lawful subpoena issued by the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, had claimed his demand for documents and testimony was in furtherance of a legislative purpose, an effort to examine federal law. Bragg refuted that claim: “Congress cannot have any legitimate legislative task relating to the oversight of local prosecutors enforcing state law.”

“In New York, the District Attorney is a constitutional officer charged with ‘the responsibility to conduct all prosecutions for crimes and offenses cognizable by the courts of the county in which he serves,'” Bragg’s letter continues, offering an education into the concept of federalism and the U.S. Constitution. “These are quintessential police powers belonging to the State, and your letter treads into territory very clearly reserved to the states.”

In a section titled, “Compliance with the Letter Would Interfere with Law Enforcement,” the Manhattan DA’s response says Jordan’s letter “seeks non-public information about a pending criminal investigation, which is confidential under state law.” It adds that “prosecutor’s disclosure of grand jury evidence is a felony.”

Continuing to explain the law to the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Bragg’s letter adds:

“These confidentiality provisions exist to protect the interests of the various participants in the criminal process–the defendant, the witnesses, and members of the grand jury- as well as the integrity of the grand jury proceeding itself. Like the Department of Justice, as a prosecutor exercising sovereign executive powers, the District Attorney has a constitutional obligation to ‘protect the government’s ability to prosecute fully and fairly,’ to ‘independently and impartially uphold the rule of law,’ to ‘protect witnesses and law enforcement,’ to ‘avoid flight by those implicated in our investigations,’ and to ‘prevent additional crimes.'”

READ MORE: Trump Lawyer’s ‘Critical Evidence’ Will Help DOJ Make Decision to Charge ‘Without Significant Delay’: Former Prosecutor

It continues, warning Jordan’s “requests are an unlawful incursion into New York’s sovereignty. Congress’s investigative jurisdiction is derived from and limited by its power to legislate concerning federal matters.”

Bragg twice offers to meet with staffers from Jordan’s Judiciary Committee to see if the Chairman’s requests “could be accommodated without impeding those sovereign interests.”

Read the letter posted by Axios’ Andrew Solender below or at this link.



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‘Going Full Fascist’: Morning Joe Blasts Trump’s Latest ‘Dehumanizing’ Attack on Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg



Days after he wrongly claimed he would be arrested and urged his supporters to “protest,” Donald Trump unleashed a vicious and antisemitic attack against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and philanthropist and donor George Soros, leading “Morning Joe” Scarborough on MSNBC to declare the ex-president has gone “full fascist” and even “full Nazi.”

“I mean he’s just going full Nazi here, full fascist,” Scarborough said Thursday morning, just minutes after Trump’s remarks posted on social media.

“You’re doing the whole Jewish international banker thing and and dehumanizing him as an ‘animal,’ calling him an ‘animal,'” Scarborough said.

“That’s ugly,” Mika Brzezinski added.

“And that’s like like straight out of the playbook. Yeah, that’s really that’s really ugly. Yeah, it’s really interesting to see exactly what’s happened with Bragg. He hasn’t taken the bait.”

READ MORE: Trump Lawyer’s ‘Critical Evidence’ Will Help DOJ Make Decision to Charge ‘Without Significant Delay’: Former Prosecutor

Thursday morning, in an all-caps rant, Trump called District Attorney Bragg a “Soros backed animal who just doesn’t care about right or wrong no matter how many people are hurt.”

Scarborough was not being hyperbolic when he said Trump had gone “full Nazi.”

“This is no legal system, this is the Gestapo, this is Russia and China, but worse. Disgraceful!”

The Gestapo were Adolf Hitler’s Nazi secret police.

In a separate post Thursday morning, after his attack on Bragg, Trump again appeared to telegraph a call for violence, writing: “Everybody knows I’m 100% innocent, including Bragg, but he doesn’t care. He is just carrying out the plans of the radical left lunatics. Our country is being destroyed, as they tell us to be peaceful!”

It is possible the grand jury, which is meeting Thursday, could vote on an indictment of Trump. Some say any potential vote would not come before next week.

READ MORE: ‘National Security Implications’: Former DOJ Official Speculates on Ruling Ordering Trump Attorney to Hand Over Docs

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‘Burn It to the Ground’: Kari Lake Undeterred After State Supreme Court Smacks Her Down



Failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake suffered a devastating blow after the state Supreme Court refused to take up her case challenging the results of her election last November, reported Newsweek on Thursday.

“Speaking at a rally organized by Turning Point Action, Charlie Kirk’s right-wing organization, Lake said: ‘They have built a house of cards in Maricopa County. I’m not just going to knock it over. I’m going to burn it to the ground,'” reported Giulia Carbonaro. “Lake shared a video of her speech, with a caption quoting her comments and a fire emoji.”

Lake is one of the only major statewide Republican candidates last year in a hotly contested race who has refused to concede her loss. She has alleged that her voters were illegally suppressed because of technical glitches with ballot tabulators in certain precincts of Maricopa County, the state’s largest population center, on Election Day.

In reality, there is no evidence of foul play, and Maricopa County election officials provided a backup method for affected ballots to be counted. Furthermore, one reason the glitch may have disproportionately affected Lake’s voters is Trump counseled voters not to mail in their ballots early, based on conspiracy theories — though Lake herself had done the opposite and asked her supporters to vote by mail.

READ MORE: Former Trump official: ‘Folks on both sides of the aisle want to see him arrested’

“Her challenge was thrown out by both Maricopa County Judge Peter Thompson and the Arizona Court of Appeals, which said Lake’s case lacked evidence that the hiccups in the county were intentionally caused by election officials to disenfranchise Lake’s supporters,” said the report. “Lake brought her case to the Arizona Supreme Court, which has declined to hear her case, but did send one of her claims back to a county judge for review. A superior court judge in Maricopa County is now reviewing Lake’s claim that the county did not follow signature verification procedures.”

On top of her litigation failures, Lake was referred to the Secretary of State’s office for investigation after she tweeted out images of what appeared to be real voter ballot signatures, which would be a violation of Arizona state law.


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