Louisiana Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards

Louisiana Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards has announced that once he is inaugurated, he will issue an executive order protecting LGBT employees of the state and state contractors from discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

Edwards, a Democrat, will be inaugurated Jan. 11. He follows failed Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal who, even after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June legalizing same-sex marriage, fought to keep his state from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. When he was first inaugurated in 2007, Jindal said that laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination were not necessary.

Edwards’ transition team has not given a timeline on when he will issue the directive, and notes that an executive order would cover state workers and government contractors in agencies and departments the governor oversees, but wouldn’t necessarily bind parts of state government outside the governor’s control, such as the judiciary.

There is no statewide Louisiana law protecting LGBT people from discrimination or harassment in employment. New Orleans and Shreveport do have local nondiscrimination ordinances, and Jefferson Parish and Lafayette Parish governments have policies in place protecting local government workers. East Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden has issued an executive order covering his local government workers as well.

Former Gov. Edwin Edwards, a Democrat, issued an executive order in the 1990s protecting LGBT state employees — a move that was groundbreaking in its time. Former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, also a Democrat, issued a similar executive order, expanding it to prohibit harassment, as well. But the the Republicans took over Louisiana’s governor’s seat, and Mike Foster and then Jindal both refused to protect LGBT workers.