Support the Louisiana Non-Discrimination Act!

We are almost halfway through the Louisiana legislative session. Forum for Equality is moving forward with the Louisiana Nondiscrimination Act (LANA). This bill, authored by Representative Patricia Smith and designated as HB501, will protect LGBT people living and working in Louisiana from discrimination in housing, employment, and accommodations.

Here’s what you need to know about LANA:

It updates over 60 existing nondiscrimination laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, as well as 40 existing laws to include age, sex and disability.

LANA doesn’t create any new laws. Rather, it would make a large number of small yet incredibly important updates to existing law. Additionally, LANA seeks to define “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” for the first time within Louisiana law.

No hard working American should have to live in fear that they can be fired, evicted, or denied a seat at a restaurant because of who they are or whom they love. We know this is good for Louisiana, and you do too. Now let’s tell our legislators. Click here to send an email in support of LANA to the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee.
Yours in Equality,

SarahJane Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

PS. Please send a strong message that you support Equality. Become a sustaining monthly donor today.

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Amended

Over the past two days we have closely monitored several bills that affect our community and successfully supported amendments to limit their potential negative impact.

Last night Rep. Mike Johnson’s amended “Pastor Protection Act” (HB 597) was passed in the House of Representatives with language strictly limiting its scope to religious leaders and organizations only. Forum for Equality believes the Pastor Protection Act is an unnecessary and redundant bill and would only serve to stigmatize the LGBT community rather than actually provide new protections for religious leaders. But, as amended, the bill poses much less of a threat to our community’s rights. HB 597 now heads to the Senate with a vote of 80-18.

This evening, Sen. JP Morrell successfully offered an amendment to Sen. Conrad Appel’s “Preemption Bill” (SB 288) ensuring that the proposed local contracting restrictions will not affect or compromise any ordinance requiring a contractor to have policies related to discrimination. Forum for Equality remains dedicated to passing inclusive local ordinances, like those in New Orleans and Shreveport, which include policies mandating that taxpayer-funded contracts do not allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. SB 288 now heads to the House of Representatives with a vote of 26-11.

We continue to guard against any backdoor efforts to add discrimination into our laws. We ask you to continue working with us towards our goal of protecting and treating all Louisianans fairly, equally and with the legal dignity and respect they deserve.

With Equality,

SarahJane

SarahJane Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

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Thank you, Governor JBE!

Victory_graphicThis is an historic moment for Louisiana as Governor Edwards signs an executive order protecting state employees and contractors from discrimination and harassment no matter who they are or whom they love. In going a step further, Gov. Edwards also repealed Gov. Jindal’s desperate and dangerous Marriage and Conscience executive order. This will show the nation that the State of Louisiana is an open, inclusive and competitive force in today’s economy. The Governor’s bold action is putting Louisiana first.

Louisiana is the first deep south state to have an executive order protecting LGBT state workers and contractors from discrimination, and we have Gov. Edwards to thank for it! Take a second to express your gratitude to Governor Edwards and congratulate him on this historic step forward.

Forum for Equality, with our partners Louisiana Trans Advocates and Equality Louisiana, commends Gov. Edwards for taking this historic action in the fight for full equality for all Louisianans. However, thousands of LGBT Louisianans still live without these protections every day. This executive order is only one step on the path forward, and Forum for Equality looks forward to continuing to work with Gov. Edwards and the state legislature to ensure that all Louisianans have the same protections no matter where they live, work, play, or pray.
For Equality,

SarahJane E. Brady

Executive Director, Forum for Equality
PS. Celebrate this victory by supporting us to continue our work across Louisiana! Make a sustaining gift today!

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Fighting Against Discrimination

It’s hard to believe we have been in the Legislative Session for almost a month, and as you read this, LGBT people continue to be subject to unfair discrimination. Rep. Mike Johnson wants to expand discrimination with the Pastor Protection Act (HB 597) and we want you to know we are there standing arm and arm with our partners fighting back.

Rep. Mike Johnson’s bill will be heard in the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee tomorrow starting at 9:30 am. We encourage you to join us, wear red to show solidarity, and tell the committee members to vote NO on HB 597. Do not let Rep. Johnson tell the nation that discrimination is a Louisiana value.

We’ve been in Baton Rouge fighting for Louisiana to be on the right side of history. Stand with us!

With Equality,
SarahJane E. Brady
Forum for Equality, Executive Director
PS. Send us a strong message that you support Equality. Become a sustaining monthly donor today.

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2016 Version of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

As we enter Louisiana’s 2016 Regular Legislative Session, here is our recap of several bills we’ve identified which may impact our community.

GOOD:

Louisiana Non-Discrimination Act: SB 332 by Sen. J.P. Morrell and  HB 501 by Rep. Patricia Smith updates almost 70 existing non-discrimination laws, in areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, and more, to include sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, sex, disability and age.

Louisiana Equal Pay Act: SB 254 by Sen. J.P. Morrell and HB 397  by Reps. Helena Moreno, Kenny Cox, Marcus Hunter. These bills amend the existing Equal Pay for Women Act that currently protects only state government employees so it will protect all public and private employees. They require that all employees be compensated equally for work that is the same or comparable.

Employment Non-discrimination Act: HB 925. Not yet assigned by Rep. Joseph Bouie updates employment protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

BAD:

Pastor Protection Act: HB 597 by Rep. Mike Johnson is unnecessary under existing state and federal law as it “seeks to protect religious organizations from being penalized for refusing services that would otherwise violate their “sincerely held religious belief” on marriage. We are seeking friendly amendments to alter the language to ensure the intent of the legislation does not overreach it’s purpose.

Senate Bill 288 by Sen. Conrad Appel could violate Louisiana’s Home Rule Charter and directly impact protections for LGBT persons in public contracts.

UGLY:

LA HB 542 by Rep. Hodges was WITHDRAWN prior to session. It had sought to regulate which bathrooms a transgender person could utilize.  We will continue to monitor this bill to ensure it is not re-filed in some other form/fashion prior to final April 4th deadline.

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Upcoming Roberta Kaplan Event

Forum for Equality, Temple Sinai and Federal Bar Association New Orleans Chapter are excited to host Roberta Kaplan for a signing and discussion on her new book “Then Comes Marriage” in New Orleans.

roberta kaplanEvent Info:

Thursday, April 14, 2016 – Book Signing at 6:00 pm; Lecture/Discussion and Q&A at 7:00 pm
Congregation Temple Sinai, 6227 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana

This event qualifies for one hour of Continuing Legal Education through the Federal Bar Association.

Free and Open to the public. Books can also be purchased for $27.95 at the event or in advance through Octavia Books here: http://bit.ly/kaplanoctaviabooks.

Parking at the West Road Parking Garage at Loyola University on the Corner of Cromwell and West Road

Find Facebook event here!

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Come together, right now

You’ve probably heard about the budget shortfall facing Louisiana, especially after Governor John Bel Edwards’ address to the state last Thursday.

As he said, “Louisiana faces an unprecedented budget challenge that, if left unresolved, will devastate state government as we know it and impose unimaginable cuts to higher education, healthcare and other vital services the state delivers to our citizens.

Forum for Equality is dedicated to the establishment of a society free from discrimination and to the support of good government. Our goals are achieved through community organization, education, and constructive participation in the political process. In order to accomplish these goals, we must do everything to work with the Governor’s office in solving this budget crisis.

We must be a part of the solution. It is time for our voices to be heard. We cannot afford politics as usual this important special fiscal session.

Please contact your elected representatives to ask them to work together with the Governor to find solutions to this budget crisis that are best for all Louisianans.

 
With Equality,

Sarah Jane Brady
Forum for Equality, Executive Director

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