Equality Federation member Forum For Equality issued the following statement praising Governor John Bel Edwards for signing an executive order forbidding state government and government contractors from discriminating based on a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity, while also repealing Gov. Bobby Jindal’s maligning Marriage and Conscience executive order:
“Today is a historic moment as Governor Edwards signs an executive order protecting state employees and contractors from discrimination and harassment no matter who they are or whom they love. And in going a step further, he repealed Gov. Jindal’s desperate and dangerous Marriage and Conscience executive order” said SarahJane Brady, Forum for Equality Executive Director. “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.”
With his signature, the Governor restored employment protections based on sexual orientation that were stripped away by his predecessor, Republican Governor Bobby Jindal, thus making Edwards the state’s third Democratic governor to order such protections, following the lead of Edwin W. Edwards and Kathleen Babineaux Blanco.
In a historic move, Governor John Bel Edwards expanded previous executive orders to cover not only sexual orientation but also gender identity. The order applies to all state agencies and offices, as well as commissions, boards and their officers. All state agencies will implement appropriate employment policies and companies which contract with the state must show evidence they have these same employment protections in place by July 1, 2016.
“Forum for Equality commends Gov. Edwards for taking this momentous step forward in the fight for full equality for all Louisianans,” said Sean Sullivan, Forum for Equality Foundation Chair, “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.”
While state employees now receive these protections, Louisiana remains one of more than 30 states where employers can fire an employee based on the worker’s sexual orientation or gender identity. No federal law exists to protect these employees. Due to efforts by Forum for Equality, two cities – New Orleans and Shreveport – have enacted protections in employment, housing and public accommodations.
Forum for Equality has been active in Louisiana by helping to pass human rights advancements for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community since 1989. Forum for Equality served as a lead Plaintiff along with several heroic Plaintiff couples in suing the state and successfully overturning its ban on same-sex marriage. Forum for Equality also aided in the passage of the city of Shreveport’s Fairness Ordinance that prohibits such discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations,working with local partner People Acting for Change and Equality The Fairness Ordinance was adopted by the Shreveport City Council by a 6-1 vote.
Our partners at Louisiana Trans Advocates also worked hard to achieve this victory. “After years opposition and frustration under our last Governor, this sends a strong message that Louisiana welcomes the contributions of its transgender residents,” said Elizabeth Jenkins, LTA President. “We look forward to continuing to work with a Governor who understands that LGBT people deserve the same fair treatment as anyone else.”
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