Antidiscrimination bill dies

Advocate file photo -- The Louisiana state capitol in Baton Rouge. Show caption
Advocate file photo -- The Louisiana state capitol in Baton Rouge.

A state Senate panel Tuesday rejected legislation that would add sexual orientation as well as gender identity or expression to state anti-discrimination laws.

The Committee on Judiciary A voted 4-1 against the measure which also would add age, sex or disability in a number of anti-discrimination laws.

“I think discrimination should not be allowed any place — public or private,” said Senate Bill 164 sponsor state Sen. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans.

The measure would have altered six dozen state anti-discrimination laws ranging from those involving extending credit to applications for parade permits or demonstrations, school admission, setting of insurance rates, employment, admission to casinos, access to public meetings and public accommodations and sale or rental of housing.

For instance, discrimination based on age and disability would have been added to the extending credit law as well as sexual orientation and gender identy or expression. Another statute involving the right to be secure from fear, intimidation and physical harm would have been expanded to cover sexual orientation and gender identity for expression.

“Discrimination by gender, age or other quality is unacceptable,” said Charlotte Klasson, representing Louisiana NOW.

Committee members questioned what they indicated as the legislation’s over-reach and said some of the problems it sought to address could be handled in court.

State Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, questioned what was meant by “gender expression.”

State Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, said denial of permits for parades interferes with the constitutional right of assembly.

Other changes impact the private sector and individuals’ religious beliefs, Claitor said.

“Some of it’s state action. Some of it’s private action,” he said.

Murray said the two cannot be separated. “You cannot discriminate,” he said.

“It doesn’t trample on anybody’s religious belief,” Murray said.

The Louisiana Baptist Convention, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and the Associated General Contractors opposed the measure.

Murray was the only yes vote to advance the measure. Voting against it were state Sens. Claitor, Martiny, Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, and Rick Ward, R-Maringouin.

Follow Marsha Shuler on Twitter @MarshaShulerCNB. For more coverage of the state capitol, follow Louisiana Politics at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/.