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Gov. John Bel Edwards: Discrimination ‘Not a Louisiana Value’

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By Christopher Lett and Steve Almasy
CNN

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed an executive order than aims to provide more protection for LGBT rights, the governor’s office said Wednesday.

The governor’s order says in part: “no state agencies, offices, departments or commission boards shall harass or discriminate on the basis of race, color, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

He said in a written statement that there is no state law in Louisiana that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people from employment discrimination.

“While this executive order respects the religious beliefs of our people, it also signals to the rest of the country that discrimination is not a Louisiana value, but rather, that Louisiana is a state that is respectful and inclusive of everyone around us,” Edwards, a Democrat, said.

The order rescinds a 2015 executive order from former Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, which extended protections for businesses that refused services to same-sex couples.

“The previous administration’s executive I am rescinding was meant to serve a narrow political agenda,” Edwards said.

Several members of the U.S. Congress tweeted their approval.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote: “[email protected] took bold action today to protect #LGBT Louisianans from discrimination & ensure that equality under the law prevails! #lagov.”

Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer tweeted his thanks to the governor and added the hashtag “#EqualityFoward.”

There is an exemption for churches and religious organizations, the governor’s statement said.

“We respect our fellow citizens for their beliefs, but we do not discriminate based on our disagreements,” Edwards said.

But there were opponents to the governor’s action, too.

Gene Mills, of the Louisiana Family Forum, told NOLA.com other states were protecting people of faith but Edwards was “using his executive power to silence those same people of faith.”

The order went into effect immediately, except for a section that dealt with state agencies and contractors.

CNN’s Amanda Jackson contributed to this report.

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