Court: Governor can't protect LGBT rights via order - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Court: Governor can't protect LGBT rights via order

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Courtesy of MGN online Courtesy of MGN online

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards lost his latest legal battle Wednesday over his executive order aimed at protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in state government.
A three-judge panel of Louisiana's 1st Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a lower court's December decision that the Democratic governor's executive order was an unconstitutional attempt to expand state law. The unanimous appellate ruling was a victory for the Republican state attorney general, Jeff Landry, who had issued an opinion saying the order violated the state constitution. Landry had refused to approve various state agency contracts for appointment of legal counsel if the contracts contained the gender identity protection.
"The Governor's Executive Order in this case goes beyond a mere policy statement or a directive to fulfill law, because there is no current state or federal law specifically outlining anti-discrimination laws concerning and-or defining sexual orientation or gender identity," Judge Toni Higginbotham wrote on behalf of the unanimous panel.
The other 1st Circuit judges were Allison Penzato and Guy Holdridge.
"This ruling affirms a notion of basic civics that the Legislature makes the law, not the Governor," Landry said in a written statement.
Edwards had agreed to comply with state Judge Todd Hernandez's December order while pursuing an appeal. He contended he has the authority to issue a policy governing employment and contracting standards in the executive branch.
Edwards did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Landry is seen as a potential challenger to Edwards in the 2019 governor's race. The two men, both in their first terms, have repeatedly clashed over issues of authority and finances since they took office in January of 2016.

Gov. John Bel Edwards issued the following statement on today’s 1st Circuit Court of Appeal decision:

“I have said repeatedly that discrimination is not a Louisiana value, and this decision does not change my conviction that hiring decisions in state government should be based on merit alone.  Discrimination in state government and by state contractors is wrong, makes us weaker, and is bad for business and economic development.   Even President Trump agrees, as he has kept in place a federal executive order which is virtually identical to the order I put in place. I went a step further and provided an exemption for certain religious organizations.

“We will thoroughly review the ruling before determining our next steps.”


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