Last week, a House committee effectively killed Austin Badon’s HB 85, which would have prevented State public employers from firing employees only on the basis of sexual orientation. Currently, Louisiana has some of the worst, most bigoted, and most discriminatory laws against gays, lesbians, and transgendered Americans in the entire country. From The Times-Picayune:

 The bill, which would have applied to only employment with the state government, would have provided means for employees who believe they had been discriminated against to appeal to the state Civil Service Commission or file suit.

Those complaints would have been handled in the same way the state currently handles discrimination based on political beliefs, sex or race. That type of discrimination is banned under the state Constitution.

Immediately after he was elected as Governor, Bobby Jindal rescinded an executive order that prohibited discrimination against gay and lesbian state employees. And a few weeks ago, Representative Alan Seabaugh introduced legislation that would effectively prevent wrongfully terminated gay and lesbian employees from accessing the courts. Quoting:

The Shreveport Republican is sponsoring House Bill 402, which a prominent Louisiana LGBT advocacy group characterizes as “a stealth attempt” to ensure that employment protections for LGBT workers in Louisiana do not become the law of this land. The bill even goes so far as to supersede local non-discrimination laws.

Presented as an attempt to unclog the state court system of all those pesky frivolous lawsuits brought by gay people who are fired due to their unimpeachable flair for interior design, Seabaugh’s bill plays from the GOP “voter fraud” playbook: that is, it addresses a “problem” that doesn’t exist because the rep’s real aim is to suppress something he doesn’t like. Black people voting for Democrats, gays and lesbians having employment protections … whatever. As Matthew Patterson, legislative co-coordinator of Equality Louisiana, points out, “State courts do not face an excessive number of frivolous employment discrimination suits, and they are capable of determining which suits have merit.”

“I can’t get a damn thing done because of all these frivolous gay lawsuits!” said no judge ever.

Where Seabaugh’s bill goes from nakedly discriminatory against our gay neighbors and family members and trips headlong into jackbooted bull crappery is its override of local anti-discrimination laws. Several municipalities in the state have such laws on their books, but if Seabaugh’s “I’m secretly gay therefore I’m publicly anti-gay” bill becomes law it would prevent citizens in those jurisdictions from seeking the employment protections afforded them by their own communities.

In simple terms, Bobby Jindal wants to reserve his right to fire anyone and everyone- including career, classified  civil servants- merely for being gay, and Seabaugh wants to ensure these decisions are kept out of the court, preventing people from accessing their duly-earned benefits and rights.

Jindal, as some may recall, recently railed against the national Republican Party as “the stupid party”  and called for more inclusion and diversity.  But, you see, Governor Jindal and his allies in the Louisiana Family Forum desperately want to retain the ability to fire good and decent Americans and Louisiana public servants because of their sexual orientation. It may sound flippant or snarky, but the truth is: The old white men who run the Louisiana Family Forum are obsessed with screwing over gays. Maybe there are some latent, repressed issues at play, but regardless, it is definitively bigoted and increasingly bizarre.

Take, for example, the testimony of LFF employee Dale Hoffpauir (hat tip to Bob Mann):

First, Dale Hoffpauir is an idiot. Let’s make that clear. He claims that he had a gay black friend who is now married to a woman, and the punchline to this sad and doomed story is, “And yet, he is still an African-American.”

You get it? His gay friend got cured by marrying a lady, obviously proving that it was all just a choice for him, whereas being African-American is, obviously, not a choice. Lord knows, once a gay man or a lesbian woman decides to marry someone of the opposite sex, their sexuality is immediately reprogrammed.

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But secondly and perhaps more importantly, Dale Hoffpauir is in absolutely no position to lecture anyone else about ethics or morality. His employer, the Louisiana Family Forum, has engaged in a series of ethically questionable activities and appears to have illegally and improperly funded its advocacy arm- the Louisiana Family Forum Action- through tax-deductible donations.

Also, there’s this:  

I understand that many sincere people of faith believe that homosexuality is an abomination and a sin, and as stupid and myopic and cognitively dissonant I may find these beliefs, I respect their right to practice their own religion. But for the last few years, Bobby Jindal and the old white guys at the Louisiana Family Forum have attempted to actively and pro-actively discriminate against gay and lesbian Americans, through official state action.

It’s become an obsession. If the Louisiana Family Forum weren’t also advocating against science, it’d be easy to assume that the organization’s entire raison d’etre is the promotion of homophobic policies.

In America, it’s perfectly fine for your religion to be discriminatory. Really. It’s OK. Whatever. Folks don’t have to join your club. But it’s not OK and it never has been OK for the government to actively or even passively discriminate against people simply because of who they are. If your faith tells you that God will punish homosexuals by sending them all to burn in eternal hell, don’t worry: No one is going to force you to relinquish that belief. I know several devout Christians who spend an inordinate amount of their time attempting to argue and justify their beliefs about how and why homosexuality is sinful; they sometimes seem more consumed by fighting this “culture war” than in actually practicing their religion.

Here’s what I know and believe: Fifty or sixty years from now, when I’m dead and gone, I sure hope that people don’t remember me as someone who stood against equality and fairness; I hope that I can spend my remaining time here on earth promoting shared human dignity, the unbelievable potential of knowledge, and the importance of real and substantive empathy. I’ll try my best, but even if I don’t succeed totally, I’m absolutely certain that history will not be kind to those currently standing in the way.

7 thoughts

    1. I believe, although I could be wrong, that the first governor to issue an executive order protecting gay and lesbian state workers was Edwin Edwards. Kathleen Blanco did the same. It’s important to note, by the way, that transgender state employees have never had protections in Louisiana — gender identity and/or gender expression were not included in those orders, but they were in HB 85. (The legal landscape around anti-trans discrimination cases is somewhat different from that a decade or two decades ago, but having explicit prohibitions on discrimination based on gender identity written into the law still helps a lot.) That distinction doesn’t mean much to the Family Forum — I think they really believe that “transgender” is just a way of saying “extra super gay” — but nonetheless, it’s worth mentioning.

  1. There was two term Republican Gov Mike Foster Between Edwards and Blanco who did not repeal the Ex Order. But he also told his Lt. Gov. when he left the State.

  2. Hey people – being fired for “gender identity and expression” is also part of this discussion. You wrote: “… which would have prevented State public employers from firing employees only on the basis of sexual orientation.” Transgender is about GENDER – not Sexual Orientation. We supported the entire LGBT efforts on this – don’t throw us under the bus like that if you want our continued support efforts. There was “transphobia” in play here as well.

    Elizabeth Anne Jenkins, President Louisiana Trans Advocates.

  3. Of course anyone who wants to use their religion to justify their anti-gay beliefs is free to do that, but I have difficulty calling those beliefs “sincere religious beliefs” rather than just simply bigotry. These same folks who use the Bible to bash gays conveniently overlook Matt. 19:9 which would require most divorced folks to remain celibate the rest of their lives. Those who divorce (unless their spouse was unfaithful) and remarry are living in a perpetual state of adultery. Interesting that the LFF doesn’t try to pass laws that would prevent divorced people from remarrying. Or when they do, allow them to be fired, etc. There are way more heterosexuals living in this perpetual state of adultery than gay people even exist. Why isn’t the LFF trying to do something about this! So if you want to ascertain whether anti-gay beliefs are based on sincerely-held religious beliefs or are just plain bigotry, see whether Matt.19:9 is enforced. See whether remarried folks are demonized and shunned by their families and churches. Using the Bible to justify legislation makes no sense at all (for a variety of reasons) but those who claim to use the Bible simply cherry-pick it to justify their own personal prejudices.

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