Gov. John Bel Edward’s LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination executive order overturned


Emily Fornof | Senior Staff Artist

A timeline of the executive order’s process.

On Wednesday, April 13, 2016, Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an executive order concerning “equal opportunity and non-discrimination,” banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in state agencies, department, boards, or entities. Wednesday, Nov. 1, the First Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a lower court’s decision to repeal to the executive order.

This order meant major changes for the state. Previously, only the cities of New Orleans and Shreveport had laws prohibiting firing someone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“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,” Edwards said in a prepared statement in 2016.

Previous orders had been made regarding sexual orientation by Gov. Kathleen Blanco, but Gov. Bobby Jindal repealed the order in 2007.  The gender inclusion aspect of the order, however, was unprecedented in the state.

Currently, only 19 states have laws banning discrimination against transgender people, and just 22 have anti-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation.

Given there is no federal anti-discrimination law applying to LGBTQ+ identities, the power falls to the states.

The question of this order lied in who held the power to create the state laws.

Ultimately, the 19th Judicial District Court’s ruling found that Gov. John Bel Edwards had overstepped. With the lack of federal or state anti-discrimination laws, the court found Edwards had no legal backing for the order.

“… There is no current state or federal law specifically outlining anti-discrimination laws concerning and/or defining sexual orientation or gender identity,” the lower court’s decision written by Judge Toni Higginbotham read. “The current laws simply prohibit discrimination based on a person’s biological sex.”

Upon reexamining the decision and the order, the First Circuit Court of Appeal ruled with the attorney general and the lower court.

“Clearly, the Louisiana Legislature and the people of the State of Louisiana have not yet revised the laws and/or the state Constitution to specifically add ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity,” First Circuit Court of Appeal wrote.

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