Fulfilling a promise he made last December before coming into office, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has issued an executive order “providing employment protections for state employees and employees of state contractors on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, political affiliation, disability, or age” according to a press release from the governor’s office.
“This executive order also prohibits discrimination in services provided by state agencies, and recognizes an exemption for churches and religious organizations,” the release adds.
“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. 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.”
Edwards’s order rescinds a former anti-gay “religious freedom” executive order by Governor Bobby Jindal issued in May 2015. That order “[prohibited] the state from denying or revoking a tax exemption, tax deduction, contract, cooperative agreement, loan, professional license, certification, accreditation, or employment on the basis the person acts in accordance with a religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.”
“The previous administration’s executive I am rescinding was meant to serve a narrow political agenda. 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.”