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5 Things That Pissed Us Off This Week: Criminally Gay, Trans, and Silent

5 Things That Pissed Us Off This Week: Criminally Gay, Trans, and Silent

5 Things That Pissed Us Off This Week: Criminally Gay, Trans, and Silent

This week, we're outraged about lawmakers in Louisiana, Utah, Arizona, and Brunei who insist on making it even harder for LGBT people to live and love as they want.


Welcome back to our weekly round-up of the most infuriating bits of anti-LGBT rhetoric to grace our news feeds in the past seven days. This week, we're bouncing around the world, from Lousiana, to Brunei, to Utah and Arizona. Read on to see what made the cut, but expect a healthy dose of snark in the following pages — sometimes it's the only way we can get through the day. 

5. Louisiana Lawmakers Vote to Keep Unconstitutional Sodomy Ban on the Books

Lawmakers at the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge can't be bothered by inconsequential nonsense like decade-old Supreme Court rulings. 

At least, that's the not-so-subtle message a majority of representatives in the Republican-controlled House sent on Tuesday, when they refused to repeal the state's ban on sodomy between consenting adults — despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court declared all such laws unconstitutional, and therefore void and unenforceable, with its 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas. 

Nevertheless, 67 House representatives opposed a bill that would repeal the defunct law, while just 27 representatives supported the outdated statute's repeal. Eleven lawmakers didn't bother to vote. Even the bill's sponsor (pictured above), who didn't necessarily expect repeal to pass the chamber, was surprised by the resistance the bill faced on the House floor.

Of course, that resistance wasn't entirely organic. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that a powerful right-wing group known as the Louisiana Family Forum sent a letter to every single member of the House, warning them about the dangers of striking an outdated, unconstitutional and unenforceable law from the books. 

“Louisiana’s anti-sodomy statute is consistent with the values of Louisiana residents who consider this behavior to be dangerous, unhealthy and immoral,” said the letter. It also claimed the law was needed to protect young people from sexual predators, even though the regulation restricted the behavior of consenting adults, and additional laws exist to criminalize sexual abuse of a minor. 

But really, what's the harm in keeping the law on the books if it can't be enforced? Well, as recently as last year, sheriffs' deputies in East Baton Rouge Parish were relying on the law to entrap gay men who agreed to have sex with undercover officers and charge them with criminal sodomy. No minors were involved in those stings, but of course, this is all about protecting the moral fabric of the state from the intrinsic evil that is any kind of sex outside of penis-in-vagina, missionary-position-in-a-marriage-bed-with-the-lights-off. It's good to know these compassionate, "pro-family" types are looking out for the immortal souls of all of us — by encouraging law enforcement to break federal law and arrest people for consensual sex. Makes total sense. 

4. Brunei Institutes 'Death by Stoning' for Homosexuallty

Proving that African nations like Uganda and Nigeria don't have a lock on deadly legally sanctioned homophobia, the middle eastern nation of Brunei has instituted a law that calls for the death by stoning of anyone found guilty of having gay sex. 

The capital sin of homosexuality is listed alongside other serious offenses, including adultery, robbery, and defamation of the Prophet Mohammed. The law is set to take effect in the southeast Asian nation on April 22. 

Although a sentence to "death by stoning" seems like it should be a throwback to biblical punishment, SheWired contributor and managing editor Michelle Garcia reports that the law would actually mark the first time in the country's history that its laws allow a person to be stoned to death. Brunei has not enforced any of its laws with the death penalty since 1957. 

Unsurprisingly, but no less tragically, human rights advocates note that stoning laws are generally used disproportionately against women, though most anti-homosexuality laws in practice tend to target men perceived of being gay. So, pending Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah's approval, Brunei will officially launch a witch-hunt against women, those perceived to be LGBT, and, oh yeah, anyone who dares to not be Muslim. 

Find even more absurdity on the following pages...

3. Teens Protest Day of Silence With Antigay T-Shirts

If you noticed that the young people in your life were a little quieter than usual last Friday, it's probably because that was GLSEN's annual "Day of Silence," a nationwide campaign urging LGBT students, teachers, and allies, to take a vow of silence to symbolize what happens when bullying is allowed to continue unabated and unchallenged. Around the country, folks posted powerful photos to their social media outlets, explaining why and how they planned to Break the Silence and take a stand for their LGBT peers. 

But totally of their own volition — and definitely not with any help from presumably antigay parents who totally did not help the teens create or purchase these — some students at an Oregon high school decided to take a stand against…taking a stand? 

Portland TV station KATU reports that several students at Oregon City High School wore custom T-shirts announcing that "Gay Is Not OK."

"I'm not comfortable with you guys making a whole day about what you believe," Alex Borho told KATU. "So if you’re going to make a whole day out of it and not talk and a have a 'moment of silence,' then I can wear my T-shirt." 

Well, that's technically true. So, in the future, we presume these same kids will be wearing shirts that say "Football Is Not OK" to the weekly pep rallies, and, of course, "Keep Christmas In Your Church" when the school takes its annual winter break, right? 

2. Utah Moves to Halt Approved Adoptions by Newlywed Same-Sex Couples

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes claims that he hasn't shared his personal opinion on marriage equality, despite the fact that he's leading the state's defense of its constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, which he argued in Denver last week before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

But perhaps the Republican AG hasn't heard the old adage about how actions speak louder than words? Because in the two day before Reyes argued against marriage equality at the federal court, his office quietly filed two "Emergency Extraordinary Relief" petitions with the Utah Supreme Court to stop all adoptions by same-sex couples… Including those that had already been approved by local judges. 

You read that right. The state's attorney general, who of course has no personal vested interest in the issue, filed an emergency request begging the state's supreme court to reverse lower court decisions on whether newlywed same-sex couples can legally adopt one another's children. And this isn't some broad, ideological opposition to the idea of any same-sex parents raising children. One of the petitions filed asked the Supreme Court to overturn the decision of district court judge Elizabeth A. Hruby-Mills, who had recently approved the request for second-parent adoption made by Kimberly and Amber Leary, who were married in Utah's 17-day-long equality window. To be clear, second-parent adoption is what happens when the partner of a child's biological parent seeks to legally adopt that child, ensuring that the child has two legal guardians. And in this case, those legal guardians happen to be married, and happen to be two women. 

And, presumably, that's why the state can't possibly tolerate the women seeking equal protection for their family, just like that which is guaranteed to any children born inside a legal marriage that the state recognizes. 

Then again, Utah has refused to recognize any of the more than 1,300 same-sex marriages that took place between December 20, when a federal court struck down the state's voter-approved prohibition on marriage equality, and January 6, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on that ruling, putting a halt to the weddings. So maybe this move isn't unexpected, but it's hard to see how such a tactic supports stable families and best outcomes for children, which Utah argued was its primary reason for defending its discriminatory marriage inequality law. 

Find the most outrageous story on the next page...

1. Phoenix Trans Woman Convicted of 'Walking While Trans'

Did you know that in Phoenix, Ariz., it's illegal to repeatedly engage a passerby in conversation while walking down the street? According to city law, that behavior an indication of one's intent to "manifest prostitution," and anyone who does so is subject to arrest. That same law also deems waving at cars in an attempt to stop them, asking someone if they are a police officer, or attempting to touch someone's genitals as evidence of intent to engage in prostitution, according to the ArizonaRepublic.

Monica Jones knows all too well about this absurd, overreaching law. Last Friday, Jones was convicted of "manifesting prostitution" after she accepted a ride from an undercover police officer in an anti-prostitution sting in Phoenix last May. 

To be clear, Monica Jones is not a sex worker. She is a student at Arizona State University, a black transgender woman, and an advocate for sex workers who volunteers her time with the Sex Workers Outreach Project in Phoenix. But according to local law, Jones's behavior — walking down the street and engaging others in conversation — is criminal. Jones pleaded not guilty and said she intends to appeal the decision, with the American Civil Liberties Union and a growing group of supporters by her side.

We're inclined to agree with the ACLU that the law is overly broad and blatantly unconstitutional. The vague language in the statute encourages arresting officers to engage in profiling, contends the human rights organization, with a particularly powerful impact on transgender women of color, who are often unfairly characterized as sex workers. 

And in case you thought the phrase "walking while trans" is just something we made up — well, we'll let Ms. Jones school you on that:

"'Walking while trans' is a saying we use in the trans community to refer to the excessive harassment and targeting that we as trans people experience on a daily basis," said Jones in an interview with the ACLU. "'Walking while trans' is a way to talk about the overlapping biases against trans people — trans women specifically — and against sex workers. It's a known experience in our community of being routinely and regularly harassed and facing the threat of violence or arrest because we are trans and therefore often assumed to be sex workers."

Just to reiterate — although Jones advocates for fair treatment of sex workers and works with groups that are fighting for the decriminalization of the sex trade, she was not soliciting sex for money when she was arrested last May. In fact, the day before she was arrested, she attended a rally aimed at ending the state's harsh and ineffective strategies to police those who engage in sex work. And lest you think this was just an "isolated incident" or a misunderstanding or (likely racist, classist, and transphobic) assumption on the part of the arresting officer, note that Jones has been stopped four additional times since that May arrest while she was walking to the grocery store, a local bar, and chatting with friends on the sidewalk. Each time officers threatened to arrest her and charge her with another "manifesting prostitution" charge. 

Either Jones has some seriously impressive sexual draw that magically prompts people to attempt to pay her for sex (and while she's gorgeous, we doubt that's the case), or this is an instance of dangerous, unacceptable profiling by the Phoenix Police Department. You make the call. 

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Sunnivie Brydum

<p>Sunnivie is an award-winning journalist and the managing editor at&nbsp;<em>The Advocate</em>. A proud spouse and puppy-parent, Sunnivie strives to queer up the world of reporting while covering the politics of equality daily.</p>

<p>Sunnivie is an award-winning journalist and the managing editor at&nbsp;<em>The Advocate</em>. A proud spouse and puppy-parent, Sunnivie strives to queer up the world of reporting while covering the politics of equality daily.</p>