Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Local Newscast
Hear the latest from the WRKF/WWNO Newsroom.

Thurs 6/20 8:15pm: WRKF's FM/HD broadcasts are operating with reduced power due to an equipment fault. Online listening is unaffected.

Bill that would ban LGBTQ employment discrimination is shot down by Louisiana lawmakers

John Raymond and Rep. Delisha Boyd, D-New Orleans, testify in front of the House Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations.
Gabby Jimenez/LSU Manship School News Service
John Raymond and Rep. Delisha Boyd, D-New Orleans, testify in front of the House Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations.

A House committee on Wednesday shot down a bill in a 7-5 vote that would have banned employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The bill would have added to current state law, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin or cultural hairstyle.

Rep. Delisha Boyd, D-New Orleans, told the House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee that her bill would help address a worker shortage in Louisiana.

“Skilled and talented people are in short supply in our state,” Boyd said. “We need to expand our employment pool regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation.”

Melissa Flournoy, a board chair of 10,000 Women Louisiana, a progressive organization, said that with other bills up this session opposed by the LGBTQ community, passing this proposal would send the message that “Louisiana doesn’t hate gay people.”

But John Raymond, the pastor of New Horizon Church, a non-denominational Christian church in Slidell, argued the bill would take away rights from business owners.

Raymond expressed concern that businesses would be forced to employ workers who they do not want to represent their company.

Members of the LGBTQ community spoke to the committee about their personal experiences of discrimination in the workforce.

Jasmine Elizabeth Kemp, 32, of Bogalusa, who is transgender, said she has applied for jobs everywhere—gas stations, diners, retail stores. Still, she has never been hired.

She said she rarely hears back from businesses at all but that one or two business owners told her “they're afraid of how their customers will react to a transgender person working in their establishment.”

“No one has ever given me an interview, no one has ever vetted me, no one has ever given me a job,” Kemp said.

Kemp is not the only resident who said they have faced discrimination in the hiring process due to their gender identity.

Peyton Rose Michelle, a transgender woman and the executive director for Louisiana Trans Advocates, said that despite graduating from high school with a 3.8 GPA and applying for hundreds of jobs, it took her three to four years to obtain a position.

“It’s really important that we codify protections into our state language… Our community, we desperately need it,” Michelle said.

Corey McKoy, the CEO of KOK Wings & Things in Lafayette, said he has a staff of over 50 people and has hired gay and trans workers.

“I’ve never had a customer come into my shop and ask what anyone’s sexual orientation is,” McKoy said.

In opposing the bill, Raymond, the pastor of New Horizon Church, a non-denominational Christian church in Slidell, argued that business owners “have to be true to their market… Sexual orientation and gender identity are lifestyle choices… This law would be a lightning rod for lawsuits,” Raymond said.

Rep. Kenny R. Cox, D-Natchitoches, pushed back against Raymond.

“Don’t you think that as Christians that we should be the first people to say, ‘I’ll give you a chance?’” Cox asked the pastor.

Cox was one of 14 lawmakers who voted Tuesday to advance a bill banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors.

“There’s a difference between what I was talking about yesterday and the right to work,” Cox said.

Cox, who served in the U.S. Army, said the best commander he had in the military was gay.

“The freedom to have a bill like this, to pass a bill like this, that’s what I fought for,” Cox said.

Boyd, the bill’s author, took a chair next to the pastor. She said that as she sat there, she thought about how “once upon a time, people felt the exact same way about African Americans.”

“Judgment is also a sin,” Boyd said.