BATON ROUGE - Today, Governor John Bel Edwards signed 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. This executive order also prohibits discrimination in services provided by state agencies, and recognizes an exemption for churches and religious organizations.

Similar executive orders were signed by former Governors Edwin Edwards and Kathleen Blanco and are in place around the country. There is currently no state law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) Louisianans from employment discrimination.

“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 Gov. Edwards. “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.”

“GNO, Inc. commends Governor John Bel Edwards for his executive order barring discrimination in Louisiana,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “The perception of Louisiana’s reputation has gone from worst to first in recent years, and this action will help to solidify Louisiana's current reputation as a welcoming place for business and talent.”

In an effort to cultivate competitive, business-friendly economies, Shreveport and New Orleans have passed municipal ordinances that provide similar protections.

“The Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce has supported nondiscrimination protections for LGBT workers at both the state level and locally for years, and we congratulate Gov. Edwards on making it official that state workers and employees of state contractors will not be discriminated against,” said Rev. Lindy Broderick, Executive Vice President, Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce. “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.”

Gov. Edwards stood with the business community and LGBT citizens in opposition to former Governor Bobby Jindal’s executive order extending provisions included in Mike Johnson's Marriage and Conscience Act rejected by the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure during last year’s regular legislative session. Many in the legislature and the business community felt Governor Jindal’s executive order was not only unnecessary, but bad for business, tourism, and the Louisiana economy.

“The previous administration’s executive I am rescinding was meant to serve a narrow political agenda, “said Gov. Edwards. “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.”

Louisiana passed the strongest religious liberty protections in the country in 2010, the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act, which Gov. Edwards supported. This executive order does not conflict with this law.

“Businesses like Moonbot must do everything we can to attract top creative talent to Louisiana. The Marriage and Conscience Order sanctions unfair discrimination and prevents growth in Louisiana’s creative economy,” said Lampton Enochs, CEO of Oscar winning, Louisiana-based Moonbot Studios. “I applaud the decision to rescind this executive order and fully support the executive order extending nondiscrimination protections to LGBT government employees and contractors. This is a step in the right direction and supports Moonbot’s mission to recruit the best talent in the country – no matter the candidate’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Click here for a copy of the executive order.