At the moment, Louisiana is run by Republicans: we have a Republican governor (a terrible one, IMHO) and the party holds a majority in both the House and the Senate. As elsewhere, many of these GOP legislators are first-timers, and they’re pissing off the elders with their arrogance, their Tea Party-naivete, and their frequent ineptitude*.
And yet, there were some good things to come out of the 2011 legislative session that wrapped up in June. I’ll start with the bad, though:
- As of today, there are more obstacles standing between women and safe, legal abortion: “Abortion clinics must give more information to women before they can terminate a pregnancy, including new signs telling pregnant women that they cannot be coerced into abortion, that fathers are liable for child support and that adoptive parents may pay for prenatal care and birth expenses.” [AP]
- New Louisiana residents used to be required to wait six months before receiving a concealed handgun permit. Not anymore.
- And of course, Representative Austin Badon’s anti-bullying bill was defeated on the House floor, which tickled the backward-looking Louisiana Family Forum pink (a very butch pink, I assume).
And on the plus-side:
- Nonviolent prison inmates over the age of 60 are now eligible for parole, so long as they’ve served at least 10 years of their sentence and they’ve completed a high school degree. Maybe that’ll lower Louisiana’s sky-high incarceration rate.
- When deciding what to do with their tax refunds, Louisiana taxpayers can now send all or a portion of that money to the Louisiana Food Bank Association.
- And perhaps best of all, Louisiana’s infamous “Crimes Against Nature” law has been de-fanged. “Crimes Against Nature” is an alternate law under which police can charge alleged sex workers. Technically, “Crimes Against Nature” covers oral and anal sex, while the garden-variety prostitution law covers everything else — vaginal intercourse, handjobs, e-stim, whatever. Only problem is that, until now, the prostitution charge has been considered a misdemeanor, while those convicted under “Crimes Against Nature” have had to register as sex offenders. Worse, police haven’t applied the laws consistently, using “Crimes Against Nature” to harass women of color, transgender women of color, and many gay men. As someone who’s had friends from each of those categories prosecuted under the law, I’m happy to hear that “Crimes Against Nature” will now be treated as a misdemeanor. (Let’s hope it’s new status becomes retroactive, too).
And because I can’t write about sex crimes without singing a certain song, here’s the video for the Eurythmics’ 1984 semi-hit, “Sex Crime (1984)”. Happy Monday:
*Being one of those things is fine, I suppose, but all three is a deal-breaker in my book.