La. LGBT order sets state apart

Olivia Barfield

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In a distinct move made Wednesday, Gov. John Bel Edwards took action to protect Louisiana’s LGBT community.

Edwards issued an executive order that protects state workers and contractors from being fired, discriminated against or harassed based on their gender identity and sexual orientation. All state agencies, departments and offices won’t be able to discriminate under the order.

Some think that this puts Louisiana ahead of its southern peers. Joseph Wright, a senior political science major, thinks that the order stands up to those who cite religion to treat LGBT people “unfairly.”

“This was an important move to prevent discrimination and show that Louisiana wants to provide a safe and fair working environment for people in the LGBT community, especially in light of the law just passed in Mississippi,” Wright said.

Mississippi passed a law last week allowing those with religious objections to deny some services to gay couples. Mississippi’s initiatives aren’t uncommon. North Carolina passed a similar law, and there are over 100 other similar bills pending in other, mostly southern, states.

Gov. Edwards and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who recently vetoed a discrimination/religious restoration law, are seemingly alone in defending LGBT rights in the south.

Edwards’ order includes an exception for religious organizations who believe that complying with the order would violate their religion. This includes services provided by Catholic organizations that contract with the state to provide services like education, health care and adoption.

Some students see the order as a step in the right direction. Abbie Melancon, freshman atmospheric science major, said that she has avoided any topic related to sexuality at her grocery store job because she didn’t want to be treated unfairly.

“Most people assumed I was straight…and mostly just avoided the subject of datng with me. If they did talk about it, they asked about my boyfriend and were shocked when I told them I didn’t have one. I knew better than to tell everyone that I was gay, I just said I was focusing on school,” Melancon said.

Melancon said this order may begin to help others like her.

“It will keep people from losing their jobs over people who don’t know any better than to be afraid of them,” she said.

However, some students don’t think that the order will mean change.

Eddie Anderson, a sophomore english major, said while this bill sounds good, it may not live up to the hype.

“It won’t matter what rules are passed. Ignorant people will find ways to get around these laws,” Anderson said.

“Will it get passed in the House this time or not? I’m kind of skeptical. I can just hope it will at this point.”