Showing posts with label Louisiana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Louisiana. Show all posts

October 26, 2016

In Louisiana an Immigrant May Not Get Married [Gay or Straight]

 Humans without human Rights! Louisiana


When Victor Anh Vo went with his fiancée to obtain a marriage license, he instead received a nasty shock: The couple was legally barred from getting married. Both Vo and his fiancée are American citizens of legal age—but Vo was born in a refugee camp and has no official birth certificate. As a parish clerk informed the devastated couple, that disqualifies him from obtaining a license, because Louisiana law forbids anyone without a birth certificate from marrying within the state.

This requirement is no ancient rule. It was enacted just last year during a fit of legislative xenophobia driven by paranoia that immigrants were committing marriage fraud in Louisiana. Now a coalition of attorneys from the National Immigration Law Center, the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, and the law firm Skadden, Arps is challenging the measure in court. Their fight to overturn the law is the first big marriage equality battle post-Obergefell, and it poses a nearly identical question: Can states deny individuals their fundamental right to marry because they don’t think certain people deserve to get married?

On the surface, the Lousiana law, dubbed Act 436, might not appear especially insidious. The bill simply adds documentary requirements to the marriage licensing process. Applicants must now provide a Social Security number and a birth certificate before receiving a license. If they don’t have a Social Security number, then they must present a birth certificate and a passport. If they don’t have a passport, they need official documentation showing that they are in the United States legally—in addition to a birth certificate. (A previous statute allowed an individual with no birth certificate to prove his or her identity before a judge, but that judicial bypass procedure is now gone.) The upshot of these requirements is that someone like Vo, who was born in a refugee camp in Indonesia after his parents fled Vietnam, cannot ever get married in Louisiana.

Why did the Louisiana legislature add these extensive new requirements, which then–Gov. Bobby Jindal happily signed into law? Rep. Valarie Hodges, Act 436’s sponsor, initially asserted that the bill was necessary to “combat marriage fraud” broadly. But after the bill passed, Hodges acknowledged that its true purpose was to combat immigration fraud, stating that her measure was necessary to prevent immigrants from marrying citizens solely to get lawful permanent resident status. Immigrant marriage fraud, however, is not known to be a particular problem in Louisiana—and federal law explicitly grants the federal government, not the states, the power to combat it.

I asked Alvaro Huerta, an attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, what he thought the bill’s true purpose was.

“Act 436’s intention isn’t really combatting marriage fraud writ large,” Huerta told me. “The bill is trying to get at immigrants—and, in particular, making it very difficult for undocumented immigrants to obtain marriage licenses.”

Audrey Stewart, the managing director at the New Orleans Center for Racial Justice, agreed. “This law is not about marriage fraud,” she told me. “It is an attack on immigrant families and communities. And it’s rooted in anti-immigrant sentiment.”

But Act 436’s challengers don’t even need to prove the bill’s insidious intent in court: It is, by its own terms, almost certainly unconstitutional under Obergefell. In that decision, the court reiterated that marriage is a fundamental right, a critical component of the “liberty” protected by the Constitution, and held that states may not deny marriage rights based on some arbitrary distinction. Nationality or immigration status is surely as arbitrary a distinction as gender—so a law that restricts marriage rights on those bases is just as invalid as a law that restricts marriage rights on the basis of sexual orientation. That’s why the suit against Act 436 opens with the stirring peroration from Obergefell, an encomium to marriage proclaiming that all loving couples deserve “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.”

“Obergefell didn’t explicitly extend to immigration,” Huerta told me, “but the argument is there. It’s spot-on precedent for this case. Louisiana can’t pass laws that infringe on that right to marry unless they have a very compelling state reason. And we can’t think of any compelling reasons for wanting to keep some people, particularly immigrants, from getting married to the people that they love—or preventing the people who love immigrants from marrying them”
Without the certificate, how can we be sure they were actually born?

Huerta noted that even if the suit doesn’t prevail under Obergefell, Act 436 is still a straightforward violation of the Equal Protection Clause (which generally prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin). But Obergefell is the headlining precedent here, and the all-stars of the marriage equality movement have already lined up to support the suit. Indeed, the National Center for Lesbian Rights has already signaled its eagerness to contribute to the litigation in any way it can. I asked the group’s legal director, Shannon Price Minter, why the group was jumping into this battle. He provided me with the remarks he delivered to the National Immigration Law Center in throwing his organization’s support behind the suit:

Speaking on behalf of the LGBT community, whose fundamental freedom to marry was only recently recognized in this country, just last year by the U.S. Supreme Court, we are appalled by Louisiana’s blatant attempt to deny the fundamental right to marry to immigrants, which of course includes many LGBT people who have come to this country from other places and who are now living in Louisiana.
As LGBT people know from recent experience, the purpose and impact of such laws are so invidious and harmful—and especially so here, when the discrimination is targeted at a class of people, immigrants, who have already experienced so much discrimination and abuse and who are under attack in such a vicious way by one of our presidential candidates.

Laws such as these are intended to—and do—send a clear message that immigrants are not entitled to equal dignity and respect, and that their relationships are not worthy of the same protections as other. They have a devastating practical impact as well, as same-sex couples experienced for so many years, in denying couples the ability to protect their relationships and their families.

The connection Minter draws between this litigation and same-sex marriage is potent and depressingly topical. This election season has featured relatively little conversation about gay people’s rights—and extensive debate about the rights of immigrants. Much like George W. Bush campaigned on homophobia in 2004, Donald Trump has rooted his campaign in vicious xenophobia, promoting legalized discrimination against immigrants and making many feel unwelcome in the United States. For LGBTQ advocates, the parallels to their own recent history are impossible to ignore. And Louisiana will soon discover that after Obergefell, the constitutional guarantee of “equal dignity” for all cannot be so easily abridged.

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers the law and LGBTQ issues

August 19, 2016

Nature Floods Anti Gay Lobbyist Tony Perkins

Sometimes a story is so thick with irony it feels like it has to be an act of divine intervention. Last Saturday, the home of anti-gay-rights lobbyist Tony Perkins was destroyed during the disastrous flood that’s ravaged his home state of Louisiana. Although no one should take an ounce of joy in the destruction of another person’s home, it’s a bizarre twist in the life of a man who claimed that god unleashes natural disasters on America to punish gay people.

In a 2015 interview, Perkins agreed with Messianic Jewish pastor Jonathan Cahn that Hurricane Joaquin was a “sign of God’s wrath” over the legalization of gay marriage. Perkins responded affirmatively saying, “God is trying to send us a message.” Perkins has a dark history of supporting violence against gays. As president of the Family Research Council he once backed the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda calling it an effort to “uphold moral conduct that protects others.”

Although Perkins has yet to attribute the Louisiana flood to the wrath of a supernatural being, he did say it was a “flood of near-biblical proportions” in an interview with the Family Research Council. “We had to escape from our home Saturday by canoe. We had about 10 feet of water at the end of our driveway. Our house flooded, a few of our cars flooded.” It’s good news that Perkins is safe, maybe this experience will allow him to reflect on the real causes of natural disasters. Like, extreme humidity and near-stationary low pressure hovering over the Gulf Coast, perhaps?

[NBC and The Guardian also ran postings on this story]

May 27, 2016

LA.Enacts Hate Crime Law for Cops[Violence vs.Cops All Time Low]

Image result for hate crimes cops

Crimes against police are the most severely punished in all 50 states and most countries but someone in Louisiana which is one of the states that have always had problems protecting the elderly, gays, Transexuals, blacks, bi racial minorities, have now made the police another minority.

 However this minority carry guns and more. It has the power of the government behind it plus the credibility of the courts and the most severe crimes from something as simple as resisting arrest and as serious as murder. On the other hand when someone is injured by the police the injured or family of disease face an almost unscalable mountain not just for justice but many times just for monetary damages to cover some of the expenses. Almost all of the cases never reach a jury. 

It is right and just that the penalties are high for crimes against law enforcement and if a legislature believes they should be higher then they should be. But by putting police or any other governmental institution in the same field as a gay man beaten to a pulp just because he is gay or a senior citizen because they are senior citizens and thus easy prey then the classification stops in helping deterrence of this crime. As you include any government agency,  be the Police, IRS or FBI you obscure the reason and the effectivity of hate crime law.
If one knows takes into account the result of this law and the fight against hate crime and equal rights persist, would a homophobic, racist bias law maker have introduced it to dilute the LGBT and others putting Police Squarely Vs. equal rights in Louisiana and others that will pursue the same route? Noh! Really? This law is not intended to fight crime against cops and police ing would be made more difficult with resentment from minorities.  How does that helps?

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe. Albert Einstein

Yesterday late afternoon 
New York Times reported on this story:

Hate crime statutes originated as a response to bigotry, a special penalty for singling people out for abuse based on factors like race, ethnicity, sex, religion, sexual orientation or, most recently, gender identity. On Thursday, Louisiana became the first state to add law enforcement officers to that list.

A bill signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards on Thursday set off a debate over whether the measure was really needed to protect officers, or whether, as civil rights groups charged, it was an effort to dilute the basic meaning of hate crimes and to undermine the movement protesting the use of force by the police. A similar bill is pending in Congress.

The action comes at a time of fierce national debate over policing and race. High profile deaths of African- Americans in the hands of police — from Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., to Eric Garner in New York City — have prompted intense criticism of law enforcement. That criticism has come in street demonstrations and on social media, spawning the Black Lives Matter movement. Some law enforcement groups have charged that those protests have led to an increase in attacks on police officers, though there is little data to support that. Still, some supporters of law enforcement have adopted the slogan, “Blue Lives Matter.”

“I’ve read various accounts of people who I would say were employing a deliberate campaign to terrorize our officers,” said state Representative Lance Harris, the Republican author of the Louisiana measure. “I just wanted to give an extra level of protection to the people who protect us.”

Ernest L. Johnson, Sr., president of the Louisiana branch of the N.A.A.C.P., countered, saying, “Hate crimes law is based upon a history of discrimination against certain groups of people, and a bill like this just tries to water down that reality, because there is not a history of discrimination against police and firefighters.”

“The men and women who put their lives on the line every day, often under very dangerous circumstances are true heroes and they deserve every protection that we can give them,” said Mr. Edwards, a Democrat whose family ties to law enforcement run broad and deep. His brother, Daniel, is the sheriff in Tangipahoa Parish; another brother, Frank, is the police chief of Independence, a town in the parish; and their father, grandfather and great-great-grandfather were also sheriffs in Tangipahoa.

William J. Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, an alliance of officers’ unions, lauded the bill. “I think it’s fair to say that officers are under attack nationwide, and this is a reasonable response,” he said. 

But violence against police officers stands near an all-time low, according to data kept by the F.B.I. and private groups. In recent years, homicides have been less than half as common as they were in the 1970s, when there were far fewer officers. In 2015, 41 officers on duty were “feloniously killed,” a category that excludes accidental deaths, the second-lowest figure in the last 60 years; the lowest was in 2014.

So far this year, 20 officers have been fatally shot while on duty, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. That is up from 16 at the same point last year, but it is a pace that would still make 2016 one of the least deadly years on record.

Mr. Harris, Mr. Johnson and others have cited two fatal incidents in particular. Last August, Darren H. Goforth, a Harris County sheriff’s deputy, was shot to death in Cypress, Tex., as he was getting gas for his patrol car; and in December 2014, the New York City police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot to death as they sat in a patrol car in Brooklyn.

In each case, law enforcement officials attributed the killings to hatred of the police. The leader of a police union in New York blamed Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who had voiced sympathy for protests against police killings, for the shooting there. The Harris County sheriff, Ron Hickman, said anti-law-enforcement speech, which he linked to Black Lives Matter, had promoted the killling of officers; a statement he later said he regretted, though he said he still believed that Deputy Goforth had bee targeted.

The assailant in New York had made it clear that he intended to kill officers in retaliation for the killings of black men, but in the Texas case, officials have not said what evidence they have about a motive. Both gunmen had histories of severe mental illness.

“Perception matters, and low-frequency, high-impact events drive perception,” whether that means viral video of a shooting by an officer, or violence against an officer, said Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation, a national group that researches and advises law enforcement. “Police officers believe that the odds have increased that they will be assaulted and ambushed and attacked, even though the numbers may not support that,” he said.

Louisiana, like many states, already had a law that increased penalties for crimes committed against emergency responders. The hate crimes statute, which is separate, provides that up to five more years can be added to the prison sentence of a person who is convicted of a felony if the court finds that the victim was chosen based on prejudice against certain groups.

Mr. Harris noted that among the criteria already in the law were “membership or service in, or employment with, an organization.” That meant, he said, that adding law enforcement officers and firefighters simply makes explicit what was already implied.

The Louisiana bill caused few ripples until it was close to becoming law; some of the groups now lined up in favor and against it were not aware of it until a few days ago. It passed Louisiana’s Republican-controlled House on a 92 to 0 vote. In the Republican-controlled Senate, it passed 33 to 3. Mr. Harris said he never expected it to draw much attention, but this week he said he had fielded calls on it from around the country.

Allison Padilla-Goodman, director of the Anti-Defamation League for the region that includes Louisiana, said hate crimes laws originated because crimes motivated by bias were often brushed off, but “there is zero confusion that a crime against a cop gets treated very seriously.”

She added, “Hate crimes are about an identity-based bias, an immutable characteristic that a person cannot change. Adding a professional category changes and confuses the meaning of that.”

Mr. Bueermann, a former police chief of Redlands, Calif., said that covering officers under hate crimes laws “can reinforce the notion that hatred of a group because of who they are has no place in our society, which is good,” but it should be coupled with holding officers to higher standards of conduct.

He cautioned that the law’s supporters had opened a new debate that could go in directions they might not like.

“At some point, someone might suggest that abortion physicians should also be protected,” he said, “that if you are hunted down because of your profession, whatever the profession, that should be a hate crime.”

March 30, 2016

Democratic Gov. Reversing Gov.Jindal Anti Gay Bigotry Exec.Orders

John Bel Edwards (Photo via Facebook).
                                    John Bel Edwards (Photo via Facebook).
  Spokeswoman for the office of Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) has told reporters that the governor intends to rescind an executive order targeting the LGBT community that was signed into effect last year by former Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), as first reported by the Hollywood publication Deadline. The executive order, which is currently still in place, allows businesses and state agencies that receive taxpayer money to cite “sincerely held religious beliefs” as justification for refusing to provide goods and services to LGBT people and same-sex couples.
Jindal, who was in the midst of running for the GOP presidential nomination at the time and desperately wanted to court social conservatives, issued the order after a state House committee failed to pass a bill that would give people who object to homosexuality massive leeway in how they choose to discriminate against LGBT people. Jindal’s order does not expire until 60 days after the end of this year’s legislative session.  Shauna Sanford, a spokeswoman for Edwards, said the executive order is still in the drafting stage.
“As far as Jindal’s religious liberty order, the governor intends to rescind it in the near future,” Sanford said in a statement.
Reversing Jindal’s order would mark Edwards’ second prominent move towards promoting LGBT equality. Upon taking office earlier this year, Edwards issued an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in state employment and by companies that contract with the state. 
Deadline reports that Edwards is particularly interested in courting the film industry. Louisiana already offers generous tax incentives for production companies to film in the state. Like Louisiana, the state of Georgia has also reaped financial benefits that come from offering the tax breaks to the film industry. For the past two weeks, Georgia has been under the spotlight as Gov. Nathan Deal has weighed whether to sign or veto an anti-LGBT “religious freedom” bill that would have mirrored Jindal’s executive order. Under pressure from the film industry — including some companies that threatened to stop filming should the anti-LGBT bill become law — and the local business community, Deal eventually decided to veto the measure.

June 25, 2015

Largest Modern Slaughter of Gays in the U.S.

 Duane George “Mitch” Mitchell (left), 31, a beauty supply salesman and assistant pastor at the LGBTQ-friendly Metropolitan Community Church, died going back into the fire to save his partner, Louis Horace Broussard (right).ohnny Townsend/LGBT Religious Archives Network 

You've probably heard of New York City's Stonewall Inn, famous for its role in the LGBTQ rights movement and a newly designated landmark. What most Americans have never heard of is the story of the largest killing of gay people, all men, in US history.
Four years after the Stonewall Uprising, on June 24, 1973, 32 people were killed at the Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans, Louisiana. The building wasn't up to code; many guests were unable to escape to safety after an arsonist set the building on fire. The initial police report described a "possible arson."

Since the fire started in the entrance and blocked the fire escape on the second floor, it was impossible for lounge guests to safely escape. Graphic created by Dan Swenson,
Many others survived, some led to safety by a bartender.
As Elizabeth Dias and Jim Downs shared in a 2013 must-read essay in Time magazine:
The Jokes began almost immediately. The Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the MCC, flew in the morning after the fire and remembers a radio host asking on air, "What do we bury them in?" The punch line: "Fruit jars." The police department's chief of detectives reinforced the homophobic climate when he told reporters that identifying the bodies would be tough because many patrons carried fake identification and "some thieves hung out there, and you know this was a queer bar."
Despite the city's reputation for tolerance, there were consequences to being gay there in 1973. One victim, a teacher, was fired while in critical care at Charity Hospital after his school learned that he had been at the bar. He died days later from burns.
No convictions were made; the site is recognized by the National Park Service as a “place of loss." 

Media reaction to the mass killing at Upstairs Lounge reflected society's view on homosexuality
In this video from the coverage, CBS described the building as "a hangout of homosexuals":

February 25, 2015

Louisiana Police Arrests 2 Men for having Sex ARE They Using this as tool for Harassment?


Concerned about whether conservative states will acknowledge the legal reality of marriage equality—even if it’s handed down from the Supreme Court? Well, Louisiana is still having a hard time accepting the demise of anti-sodomy laws, despite the fact that SCOTUS ruled them unconstitutional more than a decade
The police chief of Baton Rouge, La., had to apologize after it emerged that officers recently charged two men under an anti-gay law that the Supreme Court of the United States rendered unconstitutional over a decade ago.
The incident happened on Thursday night, say reports, when two men, ages 33 and 25, were caught having sex in a stationary car at a local Baton Rouge park. Officers arrested the men on a count of trespassing and also “crimes against nature” — Louisiana’s version of an anti-gay sodomy ban. 
There’s just one problem: same-sex consensual acts aren’t illegal in the U.S. and they haven’t been for over a decade. To their credit, when the police force realized this error they quickly moved to correct it. Administrators have said that no anti-gay intent was meant and that this was a simple case of those particular officers not knowing the statute was no longer enforceable:
“They were charged on counts of trespassing and crimes against nature and then we recognized that the crimes against nature  (charge) was unconstitutional,” quotes Baton Rouge Police Cpl. Don Coppola as saying. “(BRPD) Chief Carl Dabadie immediately contacted the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s office to have those charges removed.”
Coppola says a memo has now been sent to all officers telling them that the crimes against nature statute is not constitutional and should never be invoked. He has also apologized to the two men involved, but has characterized this as a “simple mistake.” Taking this on good faith, we can recognize it very well might have been a simple mistake, but it’s worth stressing that this isn’t the first time East Baton Rouge’s police force have made this error.
In 2013 the Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office garnered national attention after an investigation by The Advocate (not the LGBT title but one that covers state news for the Louisiana region) found the Sheriff’s Office had used the unenforceable crimes against nature statute as part of a sting to trap at least 12 men who agreed to or discussed consensual sex with an undercover agent at a local park.
At the time, the department had claimed it was unaware that the Supreme Court of the United States had rendered the law unenforceable as part of  its Lawrence v. Texas ruling in 2003. Then, the court found that it was unconstitutional to regulate private consensual acts between same-sex consenting adults. This meant that every statute used to make the act of same-sex sexual acts illegal was rendered unenforceable. However, because the Supreme Court (rightly) cannot make or repeal laws, the statutes remained on the books.
Several states have repealed their anti-sodomy laws–because it’s pointless and confusing to have them written in law–but around 13 states still have those laws on the books, including Louisiana. This is how the so-called mistake came about in 2013, and apparently many of East Baton Rouge’s officers still haven’t got the message today.
“It’s outrageous that we have people in this state sitting in jail accused of a crime that’s been declared invalid,” Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU in Louisiana, is quoted as saying. “The Baton Rouge Police Department needs to get the message that they can’t arrest people illegally.”
This is especially aggravating, not just because it’s the same police force that has yet again attempted to use this law (and, it appears, the only police force in Louisiana), but because Republicans in the state House last year refused to take up a simple measure that would delete the crimes against nature statute’s anti-gay provisions.  To repeat again, the Supreme Court has ruled these laws unconstitutional, but they are still occasionally being used. Simple logic dictates that the legislature must do something about this, but it continues to hold on to this anti-gay provision, as do several other states. We have to ask why?
Unfortunately, religious conservative lawmakers are on record as saying that they believe repealing the statute would amount to “condoning” or “approving” of what they believe is sinful behavior; this is another example of how someone’s private beliefs yet again are encroaching on and harming the lives of others in the secular world. Legal groups have signaled they are prepared to sue to get these laws off the books, and unfortunately it appears that may be necessary.
Louisiana arrests on the average of once a year men having sex with men going back to  the Supreme Court decision stopping such actions, in which arrests were more. Is the Police not instructing cops on the law? like any other law or the police including the cop on the beat arresting gays knowing charges will be dropped but instead using it as a tool for intimidation and harassment of the gay community?? Lets not go too far to the south when in NYC the police Dept under Mayor Bloomberg had a squad of young stud officers going to adult porn stores to arrest their patrons wether they were inside or just passing by. It took a major effort of the gay community and openly gay legislators to make the mayor and it’s commissioner dismantle the unit. Wasted millions of dollars and no arrests that stuck on the original charges. On most of them the charges were dismissed or plead down. Eventually all charges were dismissed but who refunds the city for the moneys and those actions and who is going to give back the lives to those men that had families and were forced to come out this way. Iam for every gay to come out and critical of anyone that don’t at least to their families or close friends but still I believe with the universal thought that coming out is a personal act and only the person coming out knows best when is the time to do so and should not be blackmailed or exposed by the government to come out.
Having said that I will expose any politician or closeted homophobe whomever they are who   damages the community by playing the double card. If you are closeted shut up! and stop criticizing those that had the heart and the moral compass to come out.

Having said that I keep calling on US Senator Linsey Graham to come out! If he is not gay he should clearly deny it! History will not be kind to any good he might have tried to do compared to the damaged he is done by hurting gays by standing by the homophobe stance of no gay marriage, no gay soldiers and anything that has come through the senate that had to do with helping the gay community get out of the hole of the treatment we were receiving in our own country. There are still people that think that we are so alien we should not even get married instead rent a room or have sex like the men in Baton Rouge that got arrested for having sex at night inside a car, under a highway in a park.  Adam Gonzalez


July 14, 2014

“The Only way I loose is if Caught with dead girl in bed or live boy”

"It's more than a passing of the guard; it's a passing of a way of campaigning," former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer told me. "I grew up on a cotton farm, and I remember Earl Long coming by to ask my father for his vote. I think of Edwards that same way—stopping by the farm."

BEGINNING IN 1954, with a bid for City Council in Crowley, Louisiana, Edwards won his first 22 races, and between 1972 and 1996, he served four terms as governor. He was powerful, effective, and pretty much always in some kind of trouble. By his own count, Edwards was the subject of more than two dozen criminal investigations during his career, and in all but one of those instances, he managed to successfully parry the accusations, often going on the counterattack with humor. In the 1970s, he said of allegations that he had gotten unlawful campaign contributions: "It was illegal for them to give, but not for me to receive." On the eve of his 1983 election, he told a young New Orleans Times-Picayunereporter named Dean Baquet: "The only way I could lose the election is if I'm caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy." In 1991, he pointed out his only similarity with his gubernatorial opponent, former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke: “We are both wizards under the sheets."
Eventually, however, Edwards's charm couldn't save him. In 2000, he was convicted of 17 counts of racketeering, extortion, fraud, and conspiracy in a wide-ranging case involving the granting of state casino licenses. He ended up serving eight and a half years of a 10-year sentence.
Edwards's postprison life has been anything but sedentary. He married 32-year-old Trina Scott—a blond Republican whom he'd met as a prison pen pal—in a lavish ceremony at the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter. Two years later, they had a son together. (Edwards had discovered that he'd had sperm frozen following a vasectomy in the mid-1990s.) He crisscrossed the state promoting his autobiography. He attended scores of dinners and charitable events, unveiling a new crop of zingers. ("I finally found a good use for Republicans," he said repeatedly. "You sleep with them.") And he and Trina starred in a poorly reviewed A&E reality show, The Governor's Wife.
Today, he lives in a ritzy subdivision south of Baton Rouge. The living room of Edwards's McMansion is decorated with four portraits of him, from various points in his political career. Inside his office are photographs of him with Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy (“I was going to run for vice president with Teddy Kennedy, but then he got into that problem at Chappaquiddick") and matching prints by the artist George Rodrigue of him and his two great Louisiana populist forbears, Huey and Earl Long.
Edwards announced in March that he was running for Congress, and he frequently justifies his candidacy with an honest if not particularly inspiring declaration: "I'm running for Congress 'cause that's what I feel like doing." His platform is pragmatic: He wants to build a high-speed rail line between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, as well as an elevated expressway to relieve congestion on Interstate 10. He wants to dredge the Mississippi properly so that ships can continue to access local factories. He would have voted against Obamacare, but he supports its most popular provisions.
The only Democrat in a race packed with Republicans, Edwards will almost certainly advance to the second round. (Louisiana's "jungle primary" system, which Edwards himself installed as governor in 1975, dictates that all candidates enter an open election in November and, if no one surpasses 50 percent of the vote, the top two compete in a December runoff.) But once he makes it to the second round, he is almost unanimously considered a lock to lose. "He will get crushed … and the only person who really gets anything out of it is Edwards, because he doesn't really want to win, he just wants the attention," longtime Louisiana Democratic political operative Robert Mann wrote me in an email.
Still, Edwards retains a kind of mystique that makes him impossible to ignore. "He's hard to beat, man, I'm telling you," says Roemer, the only person ever to defeat Edwards in an election. (Edwards avenged the loss by defeating Roemer four years later.) "He's not going to be a pushover this time. It would surprise me if he didn't have a battle plan. I haven't seen it yet, and I don't know what it is, but I wouldn't assume just because I was a new face and a Republican in a conservative district that he would be an easy opponent."

AFTER THE DELAY ON THE HIGHWAY, Edwards arrived at the crawfish festival to a hero's welcome. One woman asked him to sign a matted copy of an April 2000 Times-Picayune article on his trial. "It's been in a den just waiting for the opportunity," she said. "It hurt when he went down."
As Edwards entered the fenced-off judging area, a tall, well-built man greeted the former governor with a handshake and a warm smile. I followed him back to his table and asked him how he knew Edwards. "We did time together," he said. I wasn't sure if he was joking.
It turned out he was Oliver Thomas, former president of the New Orleans City Council, who, having pleaded guilty to bribery charges, joined Edwards at the Oakdale Federal Correctional Institution in 2009. He and everyone else in prison called Edwards "Guv."
"Poverty in prison is a big issue, and it doesn't get talked about," Thomas told me. "Anytime anyone new came to the prison, Guv always put together a care package—hygiene products. It was, if you need deodorant, soap, shower sandals—here it is. Some guys in prison didn't come in with anything. Guv's humanity was always bigger than his politics." (Edwards: "I wasn't supposed to do that, but I did it. They had nothing.")
"I'll never forget a conversation he had with some muckety-muck white-collar guys," Thomas continued. "They said, 'Guv, you ought to hang with us, not those guys,' and he said, basically, 'Shut up,' but his language was harsher. He would hang out with white, black, Hispanic, some of the Vietnamese gang members from New Orleans. … I wish everyone in politics would go to prison—they'd be much closer to the people, not so removed. What do we know about a lot of politicians who shine their halo? Guv’s been there, done that."
After greeting Thomas, Edwards continued to make the rounds. He introduced himself to Holyfield—Edwards had been at the infamous fight where Mike Tyson bit his ear—and got the boxer to crack up. He made small talk with dignitaries from St. Charles Parish. He peeled his crawfish with lithe and dexterous fingers that seemed more befitting of a young surgeon. But he was especially excited about meeting a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, a heavyset blond woman who stopped him as he was walking back to his car. "That lady was down on Democrats," Edwards said as we drove away. "She's a Republican. She hates Democrats. But she's for me."
Eric Benson is a journalist living in Austin, Texas. His work has been published inThe New York Times Magazine, Grantland, and the Oxford American. 
This article appears in the July 12, 2014 edition of National Journal Magazine asReturn of the Guv.
In a Louisiana gubernatorial debate against David Duke in 1991, Edwin Edwards warned voters to not let his opponent "make a mockery of Louisiana." (LPB-TV, Baton Rouge, La.)

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