In Historic Step Forward, Louisiana Governor Issues LGBT-Inclusive Employment Executive Order

By Adam Polaski • April 13, 2016 • 12:29 pm

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards today helped the state take a major step forward with a new executive order protecting state employees and government contractors from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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The executive order is historic – the first in Louisiana to protect state workers from discrimination based on gender identity, in addition to sexual orientation. The executive order applies to all state agencies and offices, as well as state commissions and boards.

Governor Edwards also rescinded former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s shameful executive order that unnecessarily underlined discrimination against same-sex couples – the Marriage and Conscience order, which he issued prior to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that brought the freedom to marry to same-sex couples everywhere, including in Louisiana.

Forum for Equality Louisiana executive director SarahJane Brady said today:

“Today is a historic moment as Governor Edwards sign an executive order protecting state employees and contractors from discrimination and harassment, no matter who they are or who they love. And in going a step forward, he repealed Gov. Jindal’s desperate and dangerous Marriage and Conscience executive order. This shows our nation that the State of Louisiana is an open, inclusive, and competitive force in today’s economy. This is putting Louisiana first.”

Executive orders prohibiting anti-LGBT employment discrimination in state employment are on the books in several states, including Montana, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. While some of the existing executive orders are limited to executive employment, Governor Edwards’ order today goes further, including public services and state contracting. They send a strong message that LGBT people should be treated fairly and equally – and they mark an important step forward in states without statewide non-discrimination protections.

However, the impact of these executive orders is limited and they can be rescinded by future governors. Just last year, for example, Governor Brownback in Kansas rescinded an LGBT-inclusive executive order – and Ohio Governor John Kasich issued an order that only covered sexual orientation, although the previous Ohio governor’s order covered both sexual orientation and gender identity. Therefore, it is critical that state legislators in each of these states with LGBT non-discrimination executive orders expand and codify these protections through state law.

Freedom for All Americans Executive Director said today:

“Governor Edwards is moving Louisiana in the right direction with this executive order that extends commonsense nondiscrimination protections to LGBT people. Louisiana law does not afford LGBT people protections in private employment, housing, public accommodations and a host of other areas critical to daily life. The governor’s action will hopefully set in motion an important dialogue about the need for these protections.

We thank Governor Edwards also for rescinding the discriminatory executive order put in place by Bobby Jindal that essentially singled out LGBT people as unworthy of equal treatment under the law. Freedom of religion is already protected under the law, and no one will ever try to change that. But executive orders like this – and ultimately, legislation – are essential to securing badly needed protections for LGBT people.”

Sean Sullivan, Forum for Equality Louisiana Foundation Chair, added today:

“While this order is welcome and celebrated, hundreds of thousands of LGBT Louisianans still live without these protections every day. We will continue to work toward making our home free of all discrimination, and that all Louisianans have the same protections no matter where they live, work, play, or pray.”


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