State legislators, law enforcement officials and equal rights groups all are supporting a push to remove "anti-sodomy" language in state laws that have been used to criminalize same-sex relationships. State Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, filed House Bill 12, which would remove consensual oral and anal sex from the state's "crimes against nature" statute.
East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office made arrests under the anti-sodomy "crimes against nature" statute between 2011 and 2013 — despite the U.S. Supreme Court declaring it unconstitutional in 2003 and ruled unenforceable. East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux III later apologized and pledged to work to remove the language from the law. East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore, Louisiana Sheriffs Association director Michael Renatza, and Pete Adams, director of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association, also announced their support.
In a statement to The Advocate, Louisiana Family Forum president Gene Mills implied his group would put up a fight to keep the language in the statute, and, “It may be difficult for Pat to find a great deal of support in this legislative body for taking it off the books."
Mills' comments don't mirror public onion — a December 2013 report from a LSU Public Policy Research Lab poll found that nearly 90 percent of respondents (nearly 1,200 people) support protection for LGBT people in schools, housing and in the workplace. The survey was designed by Capital City Alliance, Equality Louisiana and Louisiana Progress. Pollsters asked 1,280 people throughout Louisiana three questions: 89 percent of respondents agreed schools should “protect gay and transgender students from bullying and harassment”; 93.7 percent agreed people should not be “evicted or denied housing because they are gay or transgender”; and 89.3 percent agreed employers should not be able to “fire employees because they are gay or transgender.”
Among the demographics based on 2011 census results, pollsters reported that Republicans and people age 65 and older also largely responded in support of anti-discrimination for sexual orientation.
In a statement, Equality Louisiana president Tim West said, "This bill is a common sense solution to a silly problem. It just makes sense to remove an unenforceable law from the books. The only reason for Mills’ belief is unambiguous discrimination."
A&E, the network that runs the hyper-popular Louisiana reality show Duck Dynasty, suspended its star Phil Robertson following comments he made in a GQ profile. Writer Drew Magary talked to an off-camera Robertson, who made self-described "Bible-thumping" and "controversial" statements including: "a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus," black people "were happy" during Jim Crow, and being gay is sin similar to bestiality.
In a statement, A&E representatives said they are "extremely disappointed" in Robertson's comments, adding, "His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely."
Today, Gov. Bobby Jindal weighed in:
“Phil Robertson and his family are great citizens of the State of Louisiana. The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with. I don’t agree with quite a bit of stuff I read in magazine interviews or see on TV. In fact, come to think of it, I find a good bit of it offensive. But I also acknowledge that this is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views. In fact, I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment. It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended."
Duck Dynasty's fifth season airs 9 p.m. Jan. 15.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Louisiana consistently leads the U.S. in domestic homicides. Louisiana ranked No. 1 for the rate of women killed by men in 2009 with a rate of 2.53 per 100,000, according to the Violence Policy Center. The state ranked at No. 4 in 2010, and No. 9 in 2011. According to the Louisiana Coalition on Domestic Violence, 81 percent of female homicides are committed by a partner or an ex-partner.
At New Orleans City Council's health, education and social services committee meeting this afternoon, members of local domestic violence prevention and aid organizations presented their efforts to curb the epidemic in the New Orleans area.
"Louisiana is one of the most dangerous, violent places to be a wife, a mother, a girlfriend," said Kati Bambrick Rodriguez, director of the New Orleans Health Department's Domestic Violence Program. According to Rodriguez, Orleans Parish has issued 3,420 personal protective orders (compared to Baton Rouge, which issued 2,088), though only 24 percent of people seeking protection actually get it, she said. Rodriguez added that no LGBT victims of domestic violence have received a protective order.
Following this morning's Supreme Court rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8, conservative advocacy group Louisiana Family Forum is both "pleased" with and disturbed and perplexed by the court's decisions.
“The key message for Louisiana from the U.S. Supreme Court today is this: Your right to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman is preserved,” said president Gene Mills in a statement. “It is important to note that the Court did not find a Constitutional right to same-sex marriage."
LFF "is pleased" that the court "refused to completely undermine traditional marriage throughout all 50 states, including Louisiana," adding, "However, it is disturbing and perplexing that the court has ruled that the federal government has no right to affirm natural marriage."
"Marriage remains a religious and civil institution stewarded by the people," the statement continued. "LFF, since inception, has provided a voice for traditional marriage. LFF represents those who embrace the orthodox view that marriage and the family are instituted by God and affirmed by the sacred Scripture as the union of one man and one woman. As a civil institution, societies for centuries have recognized that the union of a man and a woman are the optimal environment for the care and nurture of children. It is upon this bedrock that all other societal institutions exist."
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this morning that same-sex couples cannot be denied federal benefits given to other couples. The ruling strikes down a part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which prevents married same-sex couples from receiving health, tax and other federal benefits.
"DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment," wrote justice Anthony Kennedy in the court's 5-4 decision. In the majority rule were justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas were in the minority.
The court also dismissed Proposition 8, the California law banning same-sex marriage there. The decision paves the way for California to reinstate same-sex marriages. (Twelve states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriages.) The DOMA ruling means the federal government must recognize marriages in those states.
At 5:30 p.m. today, the Forum for Equality and several other organizations host a "Day of Decision" rally in Jackson Square:
Forum For Equality will rally in New Orleans with ACLU Louisiana, Human Rights Campaign, LGBT Community Center and PFLAG-New Orleans to explain the decision, what it means for Louisiana couples and to support the freedom to marry.
Come with your partners, wives and husbands! Bring the entire family! Invite along your friends, neighbors, allies and co-workers! Don’t forget your signs, banners, and flags! And wear RED! Press, organizations, and individual community members are all encouraged to attend.
Following a federal class action lawsuit filed last year by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and others, a settlement was reached with the state of Louisiana to remove hundreds of people from sex offender registries because of "crimes against nature" by solicitation (CANS) convictions.
Among the defendants in Doe v. Caldwell: Louisiana attorney general Buddy Caldwell, Department of Public Safety and Corrections Secretary James LeBlanc, and Louisiana State Police Superintendent Michael Edmonson.
People convicted under Louisiana's centuries-old law against solicitation of "crimes against nature" no longer have to register as sex offenders, thanks to a law passed in 2011 that equalizes the penalties for prostitution and solicitation of "crimes against nature" (oral and anal sex) — but the law was not retroactive.
Louisiana's House Committee on House and Governmental Affairs failed to pass a bill which would "prohibit discrimination in state employment on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression."
Authored by State Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, who in 2011 introduced a bill to protect gay students from bullying, House Bill 85 would allow gay state employees who were discriminated against to appeal to the state Civil Service Commission. Current law allows discrimination appeals based on discrimination of political beliefs, sex or race and, provides for hearings and decisions in those cases. Current law does not include provisions for gay employees.
The Louisiana Family Forum argued the bill would create "a target-rich environment for lawsuits" and afford "special" rights to gay employees.
The committee voted 6-3 against the bill.
Making its debut tonight, along with seven brand new bands, is Not Enough Fest, a production of No More Fiction. Since 2009, the group has supported and produced LGBTQ and feminist punk rock and DIY bands with shows typically benefiting local nonprofits.
With Not Enough Fest, inspired by the Portland, Ore. music and art festival, bands must meet a few requirements: they must be brand new and be composed of at least half women-identified and/or queer-identified people. Event organizers encouraged novice musicians to meet, learn, and play together as a group. The end result is the debut of seven bands — Spring Break-Up, Pregnant, Mans, Goat, Arabella Arabella, Osedax, and If So, Uh-Oh.
Over the last several months, No More Fiction hosted mixers where musicians or soon-to-be musicians could meet like-minded players, share ideas and music interests and start putting together groups. Organizers also hosted workshops, where budding musicians could learn guitar, bass, drums and vocal skills. The event is meant to "encourage the participation of women and queers in DIY music making in our town."
The event also features a screenprinting demonstration, and all proceeds from Not Enough benefit Ashley Volion, a Lafitte woman with cerebral palsy who was denied by the state to live and work in Chicago while pursuing a PhD at the University of Illinois for disability studies, the only program of its kind in the country.
The all-ages event begins at 7 p.m. at 3 Ring Circus' The Big Top Gallery (1638 Clio St.). Admission is $5-$25.
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And that's why we call it home baby
Yah you right.
Only in New Orleans.