Louisiana governor rescinds religious-liberty order

By Cheryl Chumley

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an executive order that protects “gays” and transgenders from employment discrimination on state-tied places of work, including with contractors.

The order basically adds to a list of prohibited workplace discrimination that already includes national origin, political affiliation, disability, age, race, color religion and gender.

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“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,” said Edwards, in a written statement. “We respect our fellow citizens for their beliefs, but we do not discriminate based on our disagreements. I believe in giving every Louisianan the opportunity to be successful and to thrive in our state. 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 respectful and inclusive of everyone around us.”

The business community offered immediate praise for the order.

The Greater New Orleans, Inc., pro-business group president Michael Hecht, said the governor’s action outright  bars “discrimination in Louisiana,” while the executive vice president for the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, Lindy Broderick, said similarly.

“[We’ve] supported nondiscrimination protections for LGBT workers at both the state level and locally for years, Broderick said. “A welcoming and fair workplace is not only the right thing to do, but is good for business. Companies, cities and states seeking to attract top talent and build a competitive workforce make it clear they do not discriminate.”

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Edwards, a Democrat, also rescinded former Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s executive order that clarified rights of businesses to refuse service to individuals based on religious beliefs.

“The previous administration’s executive [order] I am rescinding was meant to serve a narrow political agenda,” Edwards said, in the statement. “It does nothing but divide our state and forced the business community, from Louisiana’s smallest businesses to large corporations, like IBM, to strongly oppose it. This executive order threatens Louisiana’s business growth and it goes against everything we stand for – unity, acceptance and opportunity for all.”

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