EBR Democrats won’t censure Hodge

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- East Baton Rouge Democratic Parish Executive Committee member Donald Hodge Jr. enters the 19th Judicial District Courthouse for a hearing in Hodge's suit against the committee. Hodge claims the committee tried to censure him for supporting
Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- East Baton Rouge Democratic Parish Executive Committee member Donald Hodge Jr. enters the 19th Judicial District Courthouse for a hearing in Hodge's suit against the committee. Hodge claims the committee tried to censure him for supporting "marriage equality," including same-sex marriage. Photo shot on Friday Dec. 7, 2012, in Baton Rouge, La.. MAGS OUT / INTERNET OUT / ONLINE OUT / NO SALES / TV OUT / FOREIGN OUT / LOUISIANA BUSINESS INC. OUT / GREATER BATON ROUGE BUSINESS REPORT OUT / 225 OUT / 10/12 OUT / IN REGISTER OUT / LBI CUSTOM PUBLICATIONS OUT / MANDATORY CREDIT : THE ADVOCATE/BILL FEIG /

An attorney for the East Baton Rouge Democratic Parish Executive Committee told a judge Friday that the committee will not pursue a censure resolution against one of its members who is now suing the group over the flap.

DPEC member Donald Hodge Jr. claims in a lawsuit filed Nov. 20 that the committee wants to censure him for his support of “marriage equality.”

The issue stems from an argument over whether local Democratic Party candidates should be required to back same-sex marriage.

Hodge said he wanted the local party to ensure that candidates it backs support “marriage equality,” which is part of the national party’s platform. Opponents said the local party could not make that a condition for endorsement because Louisiana does not legally recognize gay marriage.

DPEC attorney Ken Fabre acknowledged to state District Judge Wilson Fields during a court hearing Friday that the state party has told the committee not to go forward with the censure resolution against Hodge. Fabre told the judge the committee is withdrawing the resolution.

“That issue is resolved,” Fields said before ordering both sides into his chambers for a private conference.

Fields later returned to the courtroom and adjourned the hearing, essentially saying the remaining legal issues have been put on hold.

Hodge said outside the courtroom that he is not dismissing his lawsuit.

“We reached an agreement that all of my issues will be addressed by the committee,” he said.

Those issues, which Hodge raised in his suit, allege that the committee violated state law by buying push cards for endorsed candidates, that committee member Tawanda Green failed to timely take the oath of office, and that the committee violated the open meetings law.

“Hopefully they’ll work out their issues internally,” Fabre said after court.

On Nov. 15, several committee members submitted a petition to censure and condemn Hodge for disrupting meetings, embarrassing the committee on social networks, threatening legal action and releasing unauthorized information.

Committee member Charlotte McGehee has said Hodge wanted the group to turn away any candidate who refused to support same-sex marriage. McGehee has said she responded that Hodge’s request was unconstitutional because Louisiana defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

DPEC chairwoman Dawn Collins said the group in August approved without opposition a resolution that says the committee supports and affirms the national Democratic Party platform “in matters relating to sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The resolution states that the committee commits to “increasing our efforts to educate candidates and elected officials about issues of fairness in public policy and legislative matters relating to discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The resolution also says the committee “will collaborate with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people as well as their allies to promote these values of fairness in East Baton Rouge Parish.”