Louisiana senate committee to hear anti-LGBT bill SB 288 today

A bill known as SB 288 that would effectively ban nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Louisianans across the state is up consideration. Were SB 288 to be signed into law, thousands of Louisianans would be left vulnerable to discrimination.

Created by Louisiana Senator Conrad Appel. SB 288, which "prohibits a political subdivision from adopting more restrictive requirements and provides for state preemption," is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Transportation, Highways, and Public Works committee today, April 7.

 

SB288 is a North Carolina-style preemption bill that would prevent cities, towns and parishes from adopting...

Posted by Equality Louisiana (EQLA) on Wednesday, April 6, 2016

 

Equality Louisiana, a non-profit organization advocating for the full legal and lived equality for LGBT people in the Pelican state, explains of the proposed bill:

One of the most powerful parts of North Carolina’s sweeping anti-LGBTQ bill has to do with the concept of preemption: the state preventing cities, towns, and parishes from passing local protections for people like us. These protections come in two flavors: ordinances that can shield LGBTQ people in all situations (like buying a donut from a private business), and policies/executive orders that can protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in the public sector (jobs and services either directly from the government or provided by businesses that contract with the government)…

New Orleans and Shreveport already have ordinances that protect LGBTQ people across the board, as well as requirements that businesses who contract with the cities can’t discriminate. Baton Rouge includes nondiscrimination in its contracts, and EQLA is constantly working with other parishes and municipalities in an effort to update these policies.

Senator Appel’s SB288 would prevent all political subdivisions of the state from writing requirements more specific than those already in state law into their contracts, and state law makes no mention of LGBTQ people. Sen. Appel is very obviously aiming at New Orleans, which, alongside protections for minority groups, includes preferences for hiring local and disadvantaged people and businesses. It might come as no surprise to learn that Sen. Appel happens to own a construction company that happens to be based in Metairie – just outside of the Orleans parish residency requirement for big New Orleans contracts.

Regardless of whether the aim of the legislation is to allow Sen. Appel and his friends to more easily gobble up construction work around the state or to sneakily introduce restrictions on LGBTQ rights, the effect is the same: many cities, towns and parishes would be prevented from requiring the businesses they hire with public money not to discriminate against LGBTQ Louisianians.

The group adds, "Equality Louisiana is working at the state level on both of these fronts. We’re running our Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA, SB436 and HB925) in both houses of the legislature, and we’re working closely with Governor Edwards’s administration on a nondiscrimination executive order. But – at least for now – progress can also be made at the local level."

The Times-Picayune reported today that SB 288 will impact the economy for all Louisianans, beyond only the LGBT community by undermining the existing "Hire NOLA" measure. The regional outlet writes:

Unemployment is high in New Orleans, and despite the abundance of construction work that has taken place in the city since Hurricane Katrina there hasn't been a whole lot of work going to people who live in New Orleans. The goal of the Hire NOLA ordinance is to connect people in New Orleans with the work that's taking place here.

Appel said it would offend the U.S. Constitution if Louisiana were to pass a law that would prohibit the hiring of folks from outside Louisiana, and he believes that an ordinance requiring special consideration for New Orleanians violates the state's Constitution. And, he says, his thoughts on the ordinance have support from Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.

SB 288 is not the only anti-LGBT bill on the table in Louisiana, and hundreds of similarly harmful and discriminatory pieces of legislation have been filed nationwide this year.

Equality Louisiana is urging people to call the committee members and ask them to oppose the harmful SB 288, or call Senator Appel and ask him to withdraw the bill.

GLAAD is also urging LGBT southerners and their allies worldwide to amplify their voices on social media:

GLAAD has been speaking out against discriminatory laws in several states, including most recently Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Dakota. GLAAD’s resource, "Debunking the 'Bathroom Bills Myth'" is a valuable resource for journalists and everyday people to understand the importance and impact of nondiscrimination bills, and ways to debunk falsehoods that often are raised in opposition to such bills.