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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 21, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 43
Louisiana court blocks LGBT protections
Section One
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Louisiana court blocks LGBT protections

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A Louisiana state court ruled on October 18 that the state's Republican attorney general can block state contracts if they contain language protecting LGBT employees from discrimination.

Louisiana's Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, issued an executive order requiring businesses that contract with the state to extend fair employment practices to their LGBT employees, but Attorney General Jeff Landry blocked enforcement of the contracts.

Edwards then sued Landry, arguing that similar language had been enforced under previous Democratic governors, Edwin Edwards and Kathleen Blanco. Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal canceled their executive orders, but Edwards reinstated them after he assumed office in January.

However, State District Court Judge Donald Johnson ruled that Edwards does not have the right to sue Landry.

The law is unclear on whether Landry or Edwards has the final word over legal contracts, the judge said, which undercut the governor's suit.

'I believe that the law is uncertain - and it does not provide the court with a clear path,' Johnson said from the bench, adding, 'The court denies the request of our governor.'

Landry has blocked some 50 state contracts with private law firms because they include language that prevents the attorneys from discriminating against LGBT people in their offices, although Landry says he has other concerns with the contracts as well.

The anti-discrimination language was only included in the legal contracts because Edwards has required all state agencies and contractors to prohibit harassment and firing based on 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity.'

The governor issued an executive order in April mandating that LGBT people be extended the same workplace protections that racial, ethnic, and religious minorities enjoy under state law. Louisiana law also protects women and people with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace.

The governor's office said he plans either to appeal the judge's ruling or rework the language in the original lawsuit to answer Judge Johnson's concerns. Meanwhile, the governor says, his executive order stands except for the contracts blocked so far.

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