Press Room

April 16, 2012

Category: State Advocacy, State Laws, Workplace, Louisiana

Archaic Louisiana Legislation Would Codify Discrimination into Law

Legislation Bars Local Municipalities and State Agencies from Offering Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Protections

04/16/2012

Baton Rouge – Forum For Equality Louisiana and the Human Rights Campaign are calling on Louisiana State Senator A.G. Crowe to withdraw SB 217, a discriminatory measure that would force state agencies and local governments to write discrimination into public contracts by setting limiting protected classes to just race, religion, national ancestry, age, sex, or disability. The bill’s passage would mean entities entering into public contracts with government bodies - including charter schools - could discriminate based on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and even on things like athletic ability, language competency, or political beliefs.  

“Senate Bill 217 is nothing more than a power grab that says that only the Legislature can make decisions about discrimination issues in Louisiana. This is a sad attempt by hate groups to not only prevent local governments, school boards, and charter schools from having anti- discrimination policies, but also to take away protections many city governments have already enacted,” said John Hill, Chair of Forum for Equality Louisiana. “Nationally, this is a losing battle for these extremists as more states expand civil rights, so once again, these groups want to make Louisiana backward-thinking, not forward-thinking.”

“Should this bill pass, it would do a great disservice to members of Louisiana’s LGBT community, and certainly doesn’t reflect the values we see in a growing number of Americans,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “In large numbers across demographics and religion, Americans oppose discriminating against their neighbors based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Unfortunately, many anti-LGBT groups are aggressively pushing this type of legislation at the state-level as they continue to lose the battle with mainstream Americans and at the federal level.”

The bill throws into question Louisiana’s long-standing tradition of Home Rule Charter, in which the state law cannot limit or supersede that of local municipalities. SB 217 essentially codifies discrimination into public contracts by restricting the classes of citizens that can be protected to race, religion, national ancestry, age, sex, or disability.

In a video linked to below, Sen.Ed Murray questions LSU Law professor Randy Trahan in the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee. At the 3:00 mark, Sen. Murray asks: "Do you think that [charter schools] should be able to discriminate based on sexual orientation?" Watch the video.

Trahan answers, "Yes, I think they should."

In this second video, Milestone-Sabis Charter School Board President Leslie Ellison cites her personal religious views as reason for her past refusal to sign her school's contract with the Louisiana Department of Education.  She objected to the phrase "sexual orientation" in the contract's nondiscrimination clause.

Forum For Equality is Louisiana’s LGBT human rights organization dedicated to the establishment of a society free from discrimination and works to achieve full equality for the LGBT community through education, outreach, and constructive participation in the political process.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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