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Thursday, 14 April 2016 13:33
Comparing Louisiana, Arizona bigotry and trust
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by Tom Aswell, Publisher of Louisiana Voice

The stark contrast between bigoted demagoguery and compassionate pragmatism was never more evident than in separate actions taken over the past few days by politicians in state houses some 1400 miles apart.

Today (Wednesday, April 13) Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards with his own executive order, rescinded an executive order signed by his predecessor, Republican Bobby Jindal, before he left office which had sanctioned not-so-subtle discrimination against gays, lesbians and transsexuals.

Last Friday (April 8), Arizona Republicans, like so many zombied-out sheep, obediently went along with Republican House Speaker David Gowan’s move to protect legislators from potentially dangerous American reporters.

Those members of the Fourth Estate can be pretty whup-ass when they start pencil-whipping some poor, defenseless politician. Like Arizona Capitol Timesreporter Hank Stephenson who earlier this year wrote a story about Gowan’s use of a state vehicle for his congressional campaign. Using a state vehicle for that purpose is against the law and Gowan logged nearly 4800 miles the car during a 19-day period.

He has since reimbursed the state more than $12,000 and he is currently under investigation by the Arizona Attorney General for misuse of public resources.

(Before you ask, Louisiana’s Attorney General is barred from initiating such investigations under the State Constitution adopted in 1974. Local district attorneys lobbied the Constitutional Convention hard that year to keep the AG out of their local business despite opposition to the provision by then-Attorney General Billy Guste. The only way the AG can come into an investigation is at the specific request of the local DA.)

Edwards signed the order banning discrimination against the LGBT community in the course of offering state services and benefits. In doing so, he went against the tide of red states that have passed oppressive laws designed to appease the hysterical right wingnuts and which only serve to fan the flames of hatred and narrow-mindedness.

The new policy, by order of Gowan, requires reporters seeking access to the House floor to submit to background checks so that Gowan can be certain they’re not hardened criminals in disguise.

But get this: the policy even lists specific offenses that can get a reporter barred from the House floor for up to 10 years. One of those offenses is misdemeanor trespass.

Wouldn’t you know Stephenson was convicted of misdemeanor trespass following a bar fight a couple of years back.

So now he can be barred because of misdemeanor trespass while the Gowan retains his Speaker’s post despite his apparent misappropriation of state property.

What are the odds?

Capitol reporters closed ranks behind Stevenson and refused to undergo the background checks.

On Tuesday, under pressure from fellow Republicans, Gowan suspended his vindictive ban but House Republicans voted to preserve his unilateral authority to decide in the future whether to rescind overall access or even to ban an individual report for any reason he chooses.

Moreover, a House spokesman said badges that were given Capitol beat reporters which opened certain doors, giving reporters access to lawmakers’ offices, including that of the Speaker, were not being reactivated.

No wonder a survey by the LSU School of Mass Communication released today shows that only 18 percent of those surveyed feel that they can trust Louisiana state government to “do what is right.”


The same survey showed that 95 percent of respondents felt that “every citizen should have complete access to information about their state government” and 82 percent said citizens should have access to records about incentives state government gives to businesses for locating or expanding in Louisiana.

Edwards signed the order banning discrimination against the LGBT community in the course of offering state services and benefits. In doing so, he went against the tide of red states that have passed oppressive laws designed to appease the hysterical right wingnuts and which only serve to fan the flames of hatred and narrow-mindedness.

North Carolina recently passed an anti-gay law that prompted Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr to their concerts in that state.

Ringo Starr Latest To Cancel North Carolina Concert Over Transgender Bathroom Law

North Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Walker called Springsteen a “coward” for cancelling his concert.

A wise man once told me the most valuable possession a man may have is his dignity and when that’s taken away, he has nothing. That man was my grandfather, who had only a sixth grade education and he possessed wisdom legislators that voted to strip away peoples’ basic rights could only hope to attain.

North Carolina has attempted to take away the dignity of an entire group of citizens. That makes the North Carolina Legislature, and by extension, Congressman Mark Walker, the bullies.

The mayor of Portland, Oregon, refused to travel to Mississippi for the commissioning of the USS Portland because of that state’s anti-gay legislation, so the ceremony was moved to Portland instead.

Other states, namely Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky, have passed similar laws. When the Louisiana Legislature defeated a similar measure last year, Jindal, who had been critical of President Obama’s executive orders, signed his own executive law that basically accomplished the same anti-gay sanctions the other states had approved.

“We are fortunate enough to live in a state that is rich with diversity, and we are built on a foundation of unity and fairness for all or our citizens,” Edwards said after signing his order.

And therein lies the difference in attitudes.

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