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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 16, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 51
Louisiana judge strikes down LGBT protections
Section One
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Louisiana judge strikes down LGBT protections

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer In a December 14 ruling, a Louisiana state judge struck down LGBT protections put in place by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.

In April Edwards fulfilled a campaign promise by issuing an executive order requiring protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in state contracts. Similar protections had been in force under the previous Democratic governor, Kathleen Blanco, but were rescinded by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Louisiana District Judge Todd Hernandez ruled that Edwards' anti-discrimination order is unconstitutional because it seeks to create or expand state law rather than leaving that to the legislature.

The decision was a significant victory for Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry, who filed the lawsuit challenging the LGBT rights order. Landry had previously held up enforcement of at least 100 state contracts because they contained the anti-discrimination language mandated by the governor.

In retaliation, Edwards refused to transfer $18 million to the attorney general's office because Landry refused to include the anti-discrimination language in the transfer agreement.

Edwards said he plans to appeal. He said his order, which contains an exception for contractors that are religious organizations, is a statement that Louisiana doesn't discriminate.

'With great respect for the role of the Louisiana legislature, we continue to believe that discrimination is not a Louisiana value and that we are best served as a state when employment decisions are based solely on an individual's qualifications and job performance,' the governor said in a statement.

LGBT rights organizations condemned the judge's decision.

'This is a setback with serious consequences for LGBTQ state employees and contractors throughout Louisiana,' said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.

'No one should face unfair and unjust discrimination simply because of who they are or whom they love. Upon appeal, we are hopeful that justice will ultimately prevail and these important nondiscrimination protections will be restored.'

'Unfortunately, the LGBT community suffered another setback after today's ruling. These are protections that are not new: two prior governors have issued similar orders,' said Forum for Equality Executive Director Sarah Jane Brady.

'Forum for Equality is confident that the governor will continue to fight for the rights of the LGBT community in this state. It is important at this time to be able to send a message to all people and businesses that Louisiana is moving forward and standing on the right side of history. We look forward to continuing to work towards that goal and fight for the rights of all LGBT citizens in Louisiana.'

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