Forum for Equality’s Executive Director spoke today before the Louisiana House Civil Law and Procedure Committee in opposition to House Bill 707. Below are her remarks:
It is our mission to sustain and promote equality on the local and statewide levels.
We represent thousands of people across Louisiana that support the full and lived equality of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
I’ve sat here many times working to expand the protections as well as stop efforts that seek to continue to deny the fair and equitable treatment of the gay and transgender community.
Tolerance is a word that has been abused by the supporters of HB 707. If you preach tolerance then you should support the full equality of the LGBT community. That is tolerance and I hope to one day see them afford that same belief to the gay and transgender community.
I’ve heard many times by the supporters of this bill that it is a shield, not a sword. This could not be further from the truth. Everyday, gay and transgender people are vulnerable to harms that should be basic fundamental rights like being fired or evicted simply for being who we are and who we love.
Those are swords. HB 707 is a sword. It seeks to prohibit the full benefits and dignity to same-sex couples. The key word is prohibit. We are continuing to prohibit full and lived equality. Rep. Johnson himself said that we should all be treated fairly — how can we continue to deny and prohibit protections of the gay and transgender community and say we are being fair to all Louisianans?
We have a state shield for religious freedom, it’s called the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act. HB 707 is only a shield for those with morale objectives who wish to continue to enshrine discrimination against same sex couples into law. Let’s move forward. Let’s show the true spirit of the people of this state. Vote this bill down to make clear that these aren’t Louisiana values.
Forum for Equality
4035 Washington Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70125