Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Religious Freedom to Discriminate?

Yesterday, Senate Bill 164, which would have updated existing non-discrimination laws to include sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression, was defeated in the Senate Judiciary A Committee on a 4-to-1 vote.

The sole committee vote to pass the bill was the bill's sponsor, Louisiana State Senator Ed Murray of New Orleans.

Senator Martiny (R) of Metairie asserted that it is the fault of the victim if she is denied service because of her sexual orientation or gender identity, while Senator Claitor (R) of Baton Rouge expressed his concern that the bill would violate the "religious freedom" of business owners to discriminate.

We thank Sen. Murray for his leadership in advocating for passage, but we are disappointed that partisan politics and willful ignorance defeated an effort to protect Louisiana's citizens from discrimination.

We are called to protect all people who are targets of discrimination, and our elected leaders need to recognize the important economic and social contributions of all our residents, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. We are grateful for the efforts of Senator Ed Murray who pushed for the bill to be approved. Please click here to send him a thank you note for his efforts.

We believe that all citizens are entitled to equal rights and should be treated fairly and equally under the laws of our state. We will continue fighting for those rights at the State Capitol and in local city and parish governments across Louisiana.

Louisiana Senate Judiciary A Committee Broadcast Archive:

Part 1 of the hearing

Senate Bill 164 comes up at minute 12.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

LA NOW President's Testimony Before Senate Judiciary A Committee 5/20/2014

My name is Charlotte Klasson, state coordinator for the Louisiana National Organization for Women and I wish to thank you for the brief opportunity to testify in favor of this bill from the perspective of how anti-discrimination laws have benefited the lives of all of the women in your life.
Everyone from your sister, your wife, your daughter or your niece along with countless friends and neighbors are benefactors of anti-discrimination laws. The world has become a more fulfilling place for the women you love now that our laws have opened the doors that allowed them to realize their full potential as members of a society, of this country, that champions fairness and equality for all of our citizens.
Think of the improved health and self-confidence of your daughters and granddaughters who get to participate in sports, of your wives and sisters who work in an environment that respects their contributions and allows them to better their lives because we demand work conditions that we all agree should be free of harassment. This will not happen without strong anti-discrimination laws.
Think of the improved educational opportunities that opened the door to careers and adventures, once only available to men, that your grandmothers sadly could barely dream about. Those are wonderful realities that improved the lives of half of our population and all of you on this committee also have tremendously better lives because of it. This did not happen without strong, well-defined anti-discrimination laws.
Anti-discrimination laws have allowed women the security to become mothers and care-givers while continuing to provide for their families because they are supported both legally and ethically. In addition, the work lives of women and families were improved when we allowed aspects of gender and age discrimination to be challenged and that is the hallmark of country that is trying to quickly right the complicated wrongs that once held women back during our past century.
All citizens want the same opportunities to live fulfilling lives with rewarding work, to be valued as contributors to the success of their families and to live free of fear that who they are, male or female, young or old, will be used against them as they work towards bettering their lives.
Allowing sex discrimination against our citizens diminishes us as humans who have a duty and the capacity to fairness to all of our daughters and granddaughters who will soon be our leaders and soon-to-be legislators. It could not happen without anti-discrimination laws.
Please improve the lives of Louisiana citizens by acknowledging that discrimination by gender, age or other quality is unacceptable. Our success as a state depends upon it. What is that old adage? A rising tide lifts all boats? Help all of our citizens to live better and more equitable lives and everyone in our state is rewarded. To do otherwise is no longer an option. Thank you for your time and attention.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Take Action: Tell your legislators that it's time to #BeFairLouisiana!

There is less than a month left in the the Louisiana legislative session, and tomorrow Forum for Equality and Louisiana NOW is moving forward with the Louisiana Nondiscrimination Act (LANA) authored by Senator Edwin Murray in the Senate Judiciary A committee.

We worked closely with Sen. Murray and the Advocacy Center on the comprehensive language of LANA (SB 164). SB 164, if it becomes law, will protect LGBT people living and working in Louisiana from discrimination in housing, employment, and accommodations.

 Here’s what you need to know about SB 164: It updates over 60 existing nondiscrimination laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, as well as 40 existing laws to include age, sex and disability. SB 164 adds disability and aging protections and expands protections to include people with intellectual disabilities and mental illness. Areas of protection include housing, higher education, income tax credits, real estate activities, insurance, and licensure of counselors, social workers, rehabilitation counselors, nurses and others.

It doesn’t create 'new' law. Rather, it would make a large number of small yet incredibly important fixes to existing law. Additionally, SB 164 defines “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” for the first time within Louisiana law. This commonsense legislation costs the state nothing and can only benefit Louisiana as it attempts to attract the best workers, residents and companies.

Two of the largest employers in Louisiana, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Dow Chemical already have nondiscrimination policies in place that include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. They know it’s good for business, and you do too. Tell your legislators to support this important piece of legislation by clicking here.