Forum For Equality Louisiana 2012 Legislative Session Summary
Backdoor Bigotry Bill – SB 217 – STOPPED!
One of the first legislative defensive actions that we took this session was on Sen. AG Crowe’s “Backdoor Bigotry” bill that would have affected existing contracting protections in New Orleans and Shreveport that include sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as other state agencies that have expanded policies. This bill sailed out of committee with only Sen. Ed Murray defending the rights and protections of those being discriminated against by this blatantly prejudicial bill. As the bill moved to the full Senate there was much discussion and ups and downs; in the end Sen. Crowe didn’t have enough votes to continue to move the bill forward.
School Bullying Prevention Act (HB 407 and SB 619) – Rep. Patricia Smith and Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb
There was a lot of work, debate and time spent on Anti-Bullying legislation this year. Building on years past, Forum For Equality joined the Stop Bullying Louisiana Coalition to work on this important bill: the School Bullying Prevention Act of 2012. The Stop Bullying Louisiana Coalition filled the room with educators, disability and lgbt advocates, school counselors, parents, students, bullied victims, social workers and friends and families of those who have taken their own lives due to bullying. These are organizations and individuals who have worked tirelessly to stop the epidemic of bullying in our state.
First was the School Bullying Prevention Act, HB 407, in the House Education committee where the coalition came together and presented broad support and facts to support the legislation. Unfortunately, Rep. Jeff Thompson introduced amendments that completely gutted the bill with those terrible amendments passing by a vote of 10 to 5. The wise votes against Rep. Thompson’s amendment thereby attempting to preserve HB 407 in its entirety: Rep. Henry Burns, Rep. John Bel Edwards, Rep. Edward Price, Rep. Pat Smith, Rep. Alfred Williams.
Then the Senate Companion bill of the School Bullying Prevention Act was introduced to the Senate Education Committee by Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb. Although there was support for this bill, the bill failed to progress to the Senate by a vote of 3 to 4. The same committee later heard Rep. Pat Smith’s amended Schools bill, without the enumerated characteristics among other important aspects that were stripped, where it was killed in committee.
License to Bully Bill – Sponsored by Sen. Rick Ward
Sen. Ward introduced his version of anti-bullying legislation, written and supported by the Louisiana Family Forum – a vehement anti-LGBT organization. Its original and draft version was essentially a license to bully! A watered down and likely ineffective version later sailed through the House and the Senate with little legislative opposition and is currently heading to the Governor’s desk for signature. Forum For Equality and the Stop Bullying Louisiana coalition will continue to work on safe school initiatives protecting all of Louisiana’s students.
Fictive Step-Parent (Second Parent Adoption) – Sponsored by Rep. Jared Brossett
State Representative Jared Brossett introduced HB 1081 and the merits were discussed at length in the House Civil Law and Procedure committee by Carmen Wiesner of National Association of Social Workers (Louisiana Chapter). Episcopal clergyman Father William Barnwell and a member of his congregation, Tyrone Chambers, followed up in strong support of the bill.
The Opposition was led by Baton Rouge adoptions attorney Todd Gaudin and Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops lobbyist Rob Tasman, and a representative of St. Elizabeth’s adoption agency in Baton Rouge.
Representative Brossett concluded by asking for favorable passage but was countered by Rep. Landry’s motion to have the bill involuntarily deferred. Rep. Hunter, who asked many great pointed questions, opposed the motion, thus forcing the members present to vote and the majority voted to defer (thereby killing the bill). We thank Rep. Brossett for sponsoring HB 1081 and Rep. Jeff Arnold and Rep. Marcus Hunter for their support for all Louisiana families!
Employment Non-Discrimination Protections for State Employees – Sponsored by Sen. Edwin Murray
Senate Bill 100, which would have prevented discrimination against LGBT state government workers, died in the Senate Labor & Industrial Relations Committee on a 4 to 1 vote. The sole committee vote to pass the bill in its original form was the bill’s sponsor, Louisiana State Senator Ed Murray of New Orleans. We thank Sen. Murray for his continued commitment to a fair and equal workplace.
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