Jeff Landry asks court to throw out transgender protections in John Bel Edwards’ order
Julia O’Donoghue of the Times Picayune reports that Attorney General Jeff Landry‘s legal team is asking a Baton Rouge court to throw out workplace protections for transgender employees in state government, but not necessarily the same protections for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people.
The attorney general and Gov. John Bel Edwards submitted their final written arguments Friday (Dec. 2) in a court case over LGBT protections. Landry and Edwards are suing each other over the governor’s executive order protecting LGBT people from workplace discrimination by state government and its contractors.
Landry has said the executive order goes too far and the governor is trying to legislate inappropriately from the executive branch. Landry is refusing to approve at least 50 state contracts with private law firms because they include an LGBT nondiscrimination clause he doesn’t like (NOLA.com).
Edwards, in turn, won’t approve some of Landry’s legal contracts because the attorney general won’t insert that same LGBT nondiscrimination clause into those agreements (NOLA.com).
In his latest court filing, Landry said he would be satisfied if the court would only remove those provisions protecting transgender workers. That would mean the parts of the executive order protecting gay people and those in same-sex relationships would stand (NOLA.com).
The attorney general it would “appropriate” for the judge could throw out the entire order, getting rid of the protections for all LGBT state employees. But he suggested the court just strike the portions prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity, which generally refers to transgender people (NOLA.com).
“The focus on the case was on gender identity because its inclusion has much more far-reaching effects on state law, employment policies and state contracting,” wrote Elizabeth Murrill, Louisiana’s solicitor general representing Landry in the case (NOLA.com).
Two other governors — Edwin Edwards and Kathleen Blanco — had issued similar executive orders but John Bel Edwards is the first governor to extend workplace protections to transgender state employees (NOLA.com).
In her legal brief to the judge, Murrill argues the transgender workplace protections could create conflict over who gets to use what bathroom and what sex is listed on a transgender person’s driver’s license, among other things (NOLA.com).
“Its enforcement, therefore, has immediate effects on employment policies, supervisor training, working conditions and conduct in the workplace,” Murrill wrote (NOLA.com).
“The effort to provide protected-class status under anti-discrimination laws based on ‘gender identity’ attacks fundamental, ordinary and for many people sincerely held religious beliefs about what defines us as man and woman,” she writes later in the legal brief (NOLA.com).
The governor’s legal team said Landry was undermining his own argument for opposing the executive order by trying to distinguish between gay and transgender protections (NOLA.com).
The attorney general has said the governor’s executive order is an overreach, in part, because the Louisiana Legislature has repeatedly voted down several proposals for LGBT legal protections. And state lawmakers have not extended any more protections to gay people than they have to transgender people (NOLA.com).
“If the Attorney General is now admitting that the Governor will be well within his authority to issue an order relating to sexual orientation, that is, per se, an admission that the Governor is well within his authority as it relates to gender identity,” wrote Matt Block, the governor’s executive counsel in his legal brief. “There is simply no legal distinction between the two groups” (NOLA.com).
The governor’s legal team also said there is no evidence that any other state agency, statewide elected official or state government contractor besides Landry has an objection to the LGBT workplace protections put in place by Edwards. The attorney general produced no witnesses that said they were finding the executive order problematic — other than those connected directly to his office (NOLA.com).
Edwards’ lawyers also argue that the judge isn’t supposed to be deciding whether the LGBT workplace protections are good policy, but only if the governor has the right to impose them (NOLA.com).
“The bulk of the evidence presented by the Attorney General at trial concerned whether attempting to prevent discrimination is a good idea or a bad idea. All of that evidence is irrelevant because that is not the question before the Court,” Block wrote (NOLA.com).
“Whether that executive branch policy is popular is a matter best left for elections,” he wrote (NOLA.com).
Read Landry’s legal briefing to the court here.
Read Edwards legal briefing to the court here.
If you or a family member are facing legal difficulties, please call us at 504-522-7260. We offer free initial consultations with our clients in mind.