One of the few remaining initiatives in front of the legislature this session is to offer broader protection to victims of domestic violence.
Under current Louisiana law, partners in same-sex couples are not eligible for assistance under the Protection from Family Violence Act, which considers abuse to be an act of violence committed by one romantic partner who is a "household member" upon another, specifically of the opposite sex.
Currently, abusive partners can't be charged with domestic violence, a serious crime; they can only be charged with simple battery, which is a misdemeanor. In addition, only spouses and immediate family members can be charged with domestic violence, which ignores the reality that many couples in long-term relationships do not have plans to get married.
HB 27 would amend the definition of "household member" to include all couples, eliminating the phrase "opposite sex".
HB 223, meanwhile, would extend domestic violence protection to "dating partners" as well as spouses and family members.
Both bills are coming in front of the Senate some time in the next day or two, so your calls can still make a difference!
If you don't know who your state senator is, go to www.legis.la.gov. Click on "Who are my Legislators?" on the left side of the Home page, and enter your address. Then click on your State Senator's name to be taken to their website and their contact info. It's actually really quick to do, promise.
WHO TO CALL (example – your reps may differ!):
State Senator Karen Carter Peterson: (504) 568-8346
Reminders: Identify where you're calling from (town and zip code is fine) so they know you're an actual constituent. Only call your own representatives. Be concise - the office will get through more calls that way. Be polite and don't argue with the staffer - they don't set policy. If you get a voicemail, then leave a message. And if you get a busy signal -- call back later!
Hi, my name is [Name] from New Orleans, zip code 70118 [or wherever you're from]. I don't need a response.
I am calling to ask Senator [NAME] to vote for HB 27 and 223. Louisiana has one of the highest rates of domestic homicide in the country, and these measures would help us bring much-needed protection to dating partners and same-sex couples in our state.
Thank you for your time, and for your hard work answering the phones.
BONUS CALL: Follow up with your State Senator on some of the issues we've been calling about over the past week – the Senate has voted almost every single one of them down. Make your displeasure with that known!
This call is courtesy of Indivisible Metairie.