La. Legislature May Take Up Anti-Discrimination Bill

While a lot of focus in early 2014 has been on legislation that furthers discrimination, New Orleans Gambit reports on a more positive legislation effort coming to the Bayou State’s chambers:

A no-stone-left-unturned approach is being taken by Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans. His House Bill 199 would add new discrimination protections under state law for four categories: age; disability; gender identity or expression; and sexual orientation.

“This is really about basic human rights,” Badon says. “People should not be discriminated [against] for anything.”

Badon’s legislation would insert anti-discrimination language into 62 different areas of law that would cover school admissions, credit lines, attending race tracks, hate crime definitions, parade applications, gubernatorial appointments, gambling in casinos, licensing counselors, brain injury facilities and more.

But the four categories he’s seeking to protect are not applied equally to each area of law. For instance, when it comes to peace officer training and standards, protections are only added under his bill for gender identity or expression, since age, disability and sexual orientation are already part of existing anti-discrimination laws for that area.

Badon’s legislation is supported by the New Orleans-based Forum for Equality, whose leadership makes no apologies about the vast legal umbrella the bill opens. “We wanted to make sure all people in Louisiana were protected. We wanted to show we’re all interconnected,” says Forum executive director SarahJane E. Brady.

That far-reaching application is exactly why another group, Equality Louisiana, which has a statewide focus, is instead supporting another bill with a narrower focus. Coalition manager Bruce Parker says Equality Louisiana is instead expecting a counter proposal to be co-sponsored by Reps. Walt Leger III, D-New Orleans, and Karen St. Germain, D-Plaquemine.

Read the full article

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