Court rules Gov. Edwards can't protect LGBT workers from discrimination

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Gov. John Bel Edwards.
  • Gov. John Bel Edwards.

A Louisiana appeals court ruling has sided with state Attorney General Jeff Landry, who challenged a 2016 executive order from Gov. John Bel Edwards that bans discrimination against LGBT people in government and state contracts. The three-judge panel sided with a lower court ruling from late last year.

“I have said repeatedly that discrimination is not a Louisiana value, and this decision does not change my conviction that hiring decisions in state government should be based on merit alone," Edwards said in a statement. "Discrimination in state government and by state contractors is wrong, makes us weaker, and is bad for business and economic development. Even President Trump agrees, as he has kept in place a federal executive order which is virtually identical to the order I put in place. I went a step further and provided an exemption for certain religious organizations."
Edwards said the administration will "thoroughly review the ruling before determining" its next steps. Louisiana Trans Advocates and Forum for Equality also "are in conversation with the administration" to determine whether to pursue an appeal. If Edwards does, it could head to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

“This decision marks a clear step backwards in Louisiana’s journey to becoming a state that welcomes all families to try to earn a living here and all businesses in search of a welcoming, business-friendly climate," said Dylan Waguespack, President of Louisiana Trans Advocates.

“While this is a disappointing outcome, we will continue to work toward securing legal protections from discrimination in employment and state services for all Louisianans," said SarahJane Guidry, Executive Director of Forum for Equality. "This decision does not mark the end of this battle. As we saw with the NBA’s decision to pull out of North Carolina, our state can expect to lose our competitive edge for securing and retaining businesses if we are not proactively fighting for equality.”

In a statement, Landry said the ruling "affirms a notion of basic civics that the Legislature makes the law, not the Governor.”

“This dispute was always about separation of powers and executive overreach,” said Solicitor General Elizabeth Murrill. “The Governor tried to make it something else and, in doing so, deflected that basic issue. Our position has been consistent — expanding the law to create new protected classes requires legislative action.”


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