Out with former GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal, in with Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, who extended protections to both transgender and gay citizens of Louisiana who work for the state or seek state services. Julia O'Donoghue reports:
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an executive order Tuesday (April 13) that protects state workers and state contractors from being fired, discriminated against or harassed based on their gender identity as well as their sexual orientation. State agencies, departments and offices also wouldn't be able to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
This means the nondiscrimination policy will not only cover gay, lesbian, and bisexual people but also transgender people for the first time. Most of the order were enacted immediately, though the parts that apply to state workers won't take effect until July 1.
The order isn't perfect—it does exempt religious organizations, such as the Catholic church, that contract with the state to provide services in areas like education, health care, and adoption. But it's a step forward from Jindal's action to extend further protections to people that oppose same-sex marriage. Gov. Edwards also rescinded Jindal's order.
The Jindal order was the subject of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit and Edwards considered it an overreach. The governor thinks his own order's exception -- as well existing laws -- will provide enough safeguards for people who have religious opposition to same-sex couples.
And there's a lesson in "elections matter."
Louisiana law currently does not provide employment nondiscrimination protections outside of a government setting for lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender workers.