Louisiana Legislature Passes Hate
Louisiana became the first state
in the Deep South to adopt
legislation that would enhance penalties for crimes motivated by hatred of a particular group. The House of Reprentatives approved the bill on Tuesday, June 17h with minor amendments which the Senate is expected to pass also. The bill increases penalties for crimes motivated by race, age, gender, religion or sexual orientation.
An attempt was made on the House floor to exclude "sexual orientation" from the bill's language, but failed by a 4,649 vote. The bill ultimately passed the House by a vote of 61-37. The bill will go directly to Governor Mike Foster who has committed to signing the bill. When serving in the State Senate, then-Senator Mike Foster voted for similar legislation on five other occasions.
The Governor's staff contacted the family of Joseph Balog, a heterosexual visiting the French Quarter from Mississippi who was fatally stabbed in 1993 due to his attackers' perception that Balog was gay. Balog's father testified in support of hate crimes legislation on several occasions.
LAGPAC Co-Chair Christopher Daigle expressed satisfaction in defeating the Christian Coalition twice in one legislative session. Conservative religious extremists had also sponsored a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage which failed to pass the Senate.
"This certainly sweetens the taste of our victory. The Christian Coalition's bigotry and hypocrisy readily became apparent to reasonable fair minded legislators," said Daigle. Representatives Tony Perkins and Woody Jenkins, close allies of the Christian Coalition, led the opposition to the bill.
Daigle also said, "I'm obviously thrilled with this all important bill's passage. But I'm equally excited and encouraged by our establishment of the Louisiana Coalition for Individual Dignity-the vehicle that brought together the leadership of LAGPAC, LEGAL, Log Cabin Republicans, Forum for Equality, Lafayette's Alliance for Equality and the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Northwest Louisiana in Shreveport.
"A great deal of thanks and respect should also be extended to members of the Legislature's Black Caucus, the Jewish Community, women's groups and other civil rights organizations. Our grass roots efforts played a crucial role in delivering hundreds of communications from throughout the state to the legislature. The value of each letter, post card, phone call or fax can never be underestimated. Every voice played a vital role in our victory."
With the governor's signature, Louisiana will become the 42nd state to pass hate crimes legislation and the 18th state where such legislation offers protection based on sexual orientation.
Spousal Benefits Ordered by Mayor
Mayor Marc. H. Morial re
cently signed an Executive
Order extending health insurance and addressing family medical leave and bereavement benefits for same sex domestic partners of City employees.
The aim of this order is to promote the interests of City employees who have entered into a domestic partnership but may not enter into a contract of marriage because of provisions of the Louisiana Civil Code, without regard to sexual orientation.
"It is important to extend these benefits to domestic partners." Morial said. "It is my hope that this executive order will be a catalyst for other public and private sector employers to follow our model."
The order specifies that the benefits are extended to partners if the domestic partnership is registered with the Clerk of Council's Office. In 1993, the New Orleans City Council passed an ordinance that allows certain persons to formally register as partners with the Clerk of Council's Office.
There are no statistics available as to how many such partners exist among the city's employees.
PrideFest '97 New Orleans' Eighteenth Annual Lesbian and Gay Pride
Festival and Parade, with "Equality through Visibility" as its theme, will be held Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 11 from 11 am to 7 pm. The parade commences Sunday, 12 noon from the site of the fest, Washington Square Park in New Orleans at Elysian Fields between Royal and Dauphine.
This year's sponsors are New Orleans Alliance of Pride, Inc., Alternative Apparel Company, AmbushMag 200, Fashion Cafe New Orleans, Absolut Vodka and Wood Enterprises. Besides the Lesbian/Gay Pride Parade and the opening ceremonies, there will be live entertainment, a kids' tent, Sunday morning Fellowship and Celebration of Unions, food, drink, merchandise and crafts vendors, National Coming Out Day Keynote Address, Speaker's Corner, Pride Pet Show, art exhibit, silent auction, community outreach and networking, domestic partner registry and much more.
Admission is $1 per person per day which will benefit the New Orleans Alliance of Pride and the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of New Orleans.
There will be many related events. Those that have been planned and scheduled are: Beer Bust 4th Friday of every month at Rawhide 2010; "Precious," commemorating National Gay Pride Month, at Fashion Cafe, Thurs., June 26 @ 11 pm; "Emerald" at Bourbon Pub/Parade Sat., June 28; and, "Diamond" at Good Friends/Queen's Head Pub Sat., Oct. 4.
For information, or to participate, call: Corporate Sponsorship/Public Relations: Stephen Graffeo, 504.949.1974; Vendor Booths, Jim Wiegand, 504. 944.3800; Lesbian/Gay Pride Parade, Allan Spach, 504.945.2579; Volunteers, Crystal Little, 504.833.3046; Fellowship/Celebration of Unions, Rev. Kay Thomas, 504.944.9836; Entertainment/Stage, Lisa Beaumann, 504.523.3017; PridePages/Advertising/Internet, Sonny Cleveland, 504.522.8049; and, Pride Art Exhibit, Matthew Nesbit, 504.949.9555.
Eat For A Cause At August 14 Fundraiser
Make plans now to participate in "Dining for Life" on
Thursday, August 14, when over 50 area restaurants will donate 25% of the evening's food and beverage bills to NO/AIDS.
With a new look and a large list of restaurants, NO/AIDS Task Force is teaming up once again with one of New Orleans' most valuable resources, the restaurant industry, to bring you a tasteful way to help in the fight against AIDS.
Simply by dining at one of the participating restaurants, you are making a donation to NO/AIDS Task Force, Louisiana's oldest and largest AIDS service organization. NO/AIDS provides a statewide toll-free AIDS Hotline, free and anonymous HIV testing, community education, a home meal delivery program, mental health counseling, support groups, case management and other services.
As of June 11, the following restaurants have generously agreed to help in the fight against HIV/AIDS through participation in Dining For Life. They are as follows: Allegro Bistro, Bacco, Bangkok Cuisine, Barataria Restaurant, Begue's Restaurant at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, Bizou Restaurant, Bombay Club, Cafe Atchafalaya, Cafe Degas, Cafe Sbisa, Cafe Volage, Charley GIs Seafood Grill, China Blossom, Criollo - Bistro Latino, Doug's Place, Fashion Cafe, Feelings Cafe, Figaro's Pizzerie, Genghis Khan, Jalapenos, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Cafe, La Crepe Nanou, La Madeleine - French Quarter, La Madeleine - Uptown, La Madeleine - Metairie, Lemon Grass Cafe, Lucky Cheng's of New Orleans, Mike's on the Avenue, Mona Lisa - French Quarter, Mr. Jim's Pizza - Kenner, Mr. Jim's Pizza - Metairie, O'Henry's Food & Spirits - Carrollton, O'Henry's Food & Spirits - Veterans, O'Henry's Food & Spirits - Severn, Old Dog New Trick Cafe, Olivier's Creole Restaurant, Restaurant Paris-Dakar, Pelican Club, Peristyle, Petunias Restaurant, Quarter Scene Restaurant, The Red Bike Bakery & Cafe, Salls Pasta Garden, Samuel's Avenue Beer Pub, Santa Fe Restaurant, Semolina - Magazine, Semolina -Metairie Road, Shalimar Indian Restaurant, Taj Mahal, Tavern on the Park, Tujague's Restaurant, Vaquero's Restaurant, and Vega Tapas Cafe.
Event sponsors are WWL-TV's NewsWatch on Channel 15, Commodore Cruise Lines, Heritage House Wines, Miller Brewing Company, The Parade, Skyy Vodka, and FYI-1515. Heritage House Wines has committed to a generous addition for this year's event. They are offering two wines, Tessera Chardonnay and Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon, and for every bottle sold the evening of Dining For Life, $1.00 will be donated to NO/AIDS Task Force.
For more information, call Mark J. McKeown, Development Coordinator at 504.945.4000.
The Verve Pipe
kick off 4th of July Weekend
Thurs., July 3rd
State Palace Theatre, Canal St.,
with Tonic & K's Choice
[photo: Robert Maxwell]