Troy Brown resignation highlights violence against women, sexism in Senate

Louisiana State Senator Troy Brown announced his resignation on Feb. 16, avoiding expulsion and ending the debate over his ability to serve. Despite pleading no contest to two separate charges of domestic violence, Brown had argued that he should stay in the Senate and that his colleagues were treating him unfairly. This discussion highlights its struggle in dealing with its member’s illegal activities, especially regarding its treatment of women.

Brown’s first case of domestic violence took place in 2015 when he was accused of punching his girlfriend in the eye during an argument following the Bayou Classic football game. Then, in January, he again pleaded no contest to a domestic violence charge, this time for allegedly biting his wife. He was fined $300 and sentenced to  64 hours of community service and 30 days in jail — of which he served 48 hours.

In most states, Brown would have been charged with a felony for committing two first-offense misdemeanors, ending his senatorial career. But his girlfriend is not classified as a family member, thus Louisiana law treats his actions as two separate offenses. Initially, the Senate moved to suspend Brown for six weeks, with Senator Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb, who prepared the suspension legislation, claiming that he deserved a second chance due to his repentance. Others felt this was not an appropriate way to discipline Brown, who represents over 120,000 people in River Parishes, and began discussing the possibility of expulsion.

The controversy over Brown’s chastisement also reflects the Senate’s overall attitudes towards women.

In 2016, proposed legislation mockingly attempted to set weight and age minimums for strippers and a cake decorated as a bikini-clad midriff was provided as a snack at a committee hearing. More seriously, the Senate also rejected the annual effort to ensure women receive equal pay. These actions, combined with the Senate’s initial hesitancy to expel Brown, sends a bleak message to the women of Louisiana.

The Senate does not appear to respect women, or take matters of their abuse and mistreatment seriously. The legislature needs to send a message of respect toward women, and take the initiative to implement laws that support women and reform laws that protect abusers. It should start by reforming the law that prevented Brown from being charged with a felony for his second case of domestic violence. 

This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Madeline is a sophomore at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at [email protected]