- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards on Wednesday signed an executive order establishing protections against discrimination for the LGBT community and rescinding an order aimed at protecting religious liberty singed by his predecessor.

The Democratic governor said in a signing statement that “discrimination is not a Louisiana value.”

“We are fortunate enough to live in a state that is rich with diversity, and we are built on a foundation of unity and fairness for all of our citizens,” Mr. Edwards said in the statement. “We respect our fellow citizens for their beliefs, but we do not discriminate based on our disagreements.”

The executive order comes after several other states have moved the opposite direction, enacting legislation that protects religious objection to same-sex marriage in the wake of the Supreme Court decision last June striking down bans on the practice.

Mr. Edwards said the order still “respects the religious beliefs of our people” and does not contravene current state legislation protecting religious liberty.

It rescinds a previous executive order signed by former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal that sought to protect people and businesses who hold a traditional view of marriage from government discrimination.

“The previous administration’s executive order I am rescinding was meant to serve a narrow political agenda,” Mr. Edwards said in the statement. “It does nothing but divide our state and forced the business community, from Louisiana’s smallest businesses to large corporations, like IBM, to strongly oppose it.”

In addition, the order established that state services cannot discriminate on the basis of several categories, including gender identity and sexual orientation.

Pro-LGBT groups praised the bill as a “fantastic” step toward equality.

“But even apart from that, the idea that the state of Louisiana has recognized that equal means equal and that employment within the state and government services must be equally available to everybody just makes Louisiana a better place,” said Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana.

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