BATON ROUGE, LA — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday issued an executive order barring discrimination against LGBT government and state employees. According to local news outlet KCLA, “The order bans discrimination against people who work for Louisiana state government or for state contractors based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. It also inhibits discrimination against those who receive state services or benefits.”
"We are fortunate enough to live in a state that is rich with diversity, and we are built on a foundation of unity and fairness for all of our citizens," Gov. Edwards said. "We respect our fellow citizens for their beliefs, but we do not discriminate based on our disagreements."
The gender identity clause is particularly drawing acclaim from fair-minded Louisianians and LGBT equality advocates nationwide, as it offers the state’s first-ever protections for transgender workers.
"Now […] transgender people in Louisiana have some sort of legal protection statewide. That has literally never happened before," said Matthew Patterson of Equality Lousiana.
The administration noted that the executive action includes built-in exemptions for churches and religious organizations. KTLA wrote that, “The order only applies to government employees and government services. Action by the legislature would be required to make it apply to all state employers and their workers.”
"I believe in giving every Louisianan the opportunity to be successful and to thrive in our state," Gov. Edwards said in the statement. "Our goal is to promote the opportunities we have right here in Louisiana. While this executive order respects the religious beliefs of our people, it also signals to the rest of the country that discrimination is not a Louisiana value, but rather, that Louisiana is a state that is respective and inclusive of everyone around us."
Despite the need for broader statewide protections for Lousianians, the executive order remains an important one, particularly in the wake of various discriminatory bills being either passed or introduced recently in Southern states in the far right’s attempt to undermine the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized marriage equality.