John Bel Edwards is still a month away from being sworn in as Louisiana's next governor, but he's already signaling a change from the Bobby Jindal administration by announcing plans to issue a pro-LGBT executive order.
The Times Picayune of New Orleans reports that sometime after his inauguration January 11, Edwards will sign an executive order to protect his state's gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender state employees and government contractors from getting fired, being discriminated against and harassed.
No timetable was announced by the governor-elect's transition team.
"People deserve not to be fired from their jobs because of who they are," Matthew Patterson of the LGBT advocacy group Equality Louisiana told the newspaper.
It is currently legal to fire someone for being gay or in a same-sex relationship throughout most of Louisiana. The Times-Picayune reports that New Orleans and Shreveport are the only cities that have enacted laws to prevent businesses from firing a person for being LGBT.
The newspaper notes the executive order would not protect nongovernment employees, nor would it necessarily apply to state government outside the governor's control, such as the judiciary.
Jindal and another Republican governor, Mike Foster, would not offer protections to LGBT state workers and contractors, as Democratic former governors Edwin Edwards and Kathleen Blanco did. In fact, Jindal called Blanco's executive order "unnecessary" when he took office in 2007. In May, a little more than a month before the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, Jindal issued an antigay executive order he said was designed to "protect religious freedom."
Edwards faces certain opposition. A conservative Christian state lobbying group, the Louisiana Family Forum, vows to fight the order.
"I have equal concerns that religious liberties may be jeopardized," Gene Mills, head of the Louisiana Family Forum, told the paper.