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Friday, March 23, 2018

Louisiana Supreme Court halts Gov. Edwards' order to protect LGBT workers from discrimination

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2018 at 5:47 PM

click to enlarge Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. - PHOTO BY GAGE SKIDMORE/CREATIVE COMMONS
  • PHOTO BY GAGE SKIDMORE/CREATIVE COMMONS
  • Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.

The Louisiana Supreme Court has sided with Attorney General Jeff Landry in his challenge against Gov. John Bel Edwards' executive order to protect state government workers from discrimination against their gender or sexual orientation. The court's 4-3 decision to not take up Edwards' appeal of a lower court ruling.

In a statement, Edwards said while he accepts the ruling, he's disappointed in the decision, which rejects protections for state workers and people in services provided by state agencies from discrimination on the "basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, political affiliation, disability, or age."

"That disappointment is only overshadowed by my frustration that the courts believe that discrimination is something we should tolerate in Louisiana," he said. "I, for one, do not think discrimination of any kind has a place in our society, much less the workplace. More importantly, Louisiana’s diversity is what makes it the greatest state in the union. Unfortunately, this puts us on the wrong side of history."
Edwards' executive order followed several failed attempts by lawmakers to pass anti-discrimination measures in the state legislature. Landry, in protest, refused to sign off on state contracts that included discrimination protections for LGBT people, citing executive overreach circumventing the legislature. But over the course of the debate over Edwards' order, Landry also has railed against transgender people during debates over the "transgender mandate" allowing students to use bathrooms according to gender identity. (Landry told the Family Research Council, "You cannot change biology, you cannot say you were a female and now we’re going to make you a male simply by some sort of operation. It doesn’t work that way. The good Lord doesn’t build us in that particular way.")

New Orleans Chief Justice Bernadette Johnson argued in her dissent that Edwards' order didn't constitute any executive overreach.

"This executive order, as the Chief Justice also notes, ‘mirrors’ executive orders from previous administrations, as well as anti-discrimination policies currently in place at our universities," Edwards said. "Equality for all Louisianans is a right. It is not a political football to be used by politicians, and I intend to continue fighting to make Louisiana more inclusive because at the end of the day, that’s what is best for our state, best for business, and simply the right thing to do.”

In a statement. Landry said he hopes the ruling "will end the Governor’s waste of precious taxpayer resources in defense of his unconstitutional actions. The Governor should live within the Constitution; and I will continue to stand for the separation of powers and the rule of law."

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