A Louisiana Senate committee last week killed a bill that aimed to add sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to the state's discrimination criteria.
Senate Bill 164 by state Sen. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans, combed through several dozen anti-discrimination laws — from credit extensions and insurance rates to real estate transactions and parade applications — to add language prohibiting discrimination based on a citizen's sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, as well as one's age and disability.
On May 20, members of the Senate's Judiciary A Committee objected to the bill's reach, saying it could interfere with individual religious beliefs. State Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, said denying permits for parades, for instance, violates the First Amendment's right to free assembly, and the legislation would be duplicative.
Comedian Kristen Becker — whose viral post in 2013 ("My letter to the Louisiana I love") laments leaving Louisiana because of its denial of gay marriage — said the bill is preventative, as nothing in law prevents someone from denying the services listed because of their sex or gender identity. Charlotte Klassen of the Louisiana chapter of the National Organization of Women said any form of discrimination is "unacceptable."
The Louisiana Baptist Convention also opposed the bill. Claitor and state Sens. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, Danny Martiny, R-Kenner and Rick Ward, R-Maringouin, voted against the measure.