A Louisiana judge overruled an executive order from Governor John Bel Edwards on Wednesday that would have set in place anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ employees of the state.
The order, signed by the governor in April this year, would have extended those protections to prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion, race, age, and disability, in addition to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Judge Todd Hernandez, of the 19th Judicial District Court in East Baton Rogue Parish, ruled that the governor was overstepping the bounds of his authority with the order.
“Executive Order is a violation of the Louisiana Constitution’s separation of powers doctrine and an unlawful usurp of the constitutional authority vested only in the legislative branch of government,” Hernandez wrote in his decision.
Governor Edwards, who was elected in November of last year on a progressive platform. He said in a statement that he plans to appeal the judge’s decision.
Twenty-three states, plus the District of Columbia, have anti-discrimination laws in place protecting state LGBTQ employees, according to the Movement Advancement Project; there are currently no specific anti-discrimination protections in place for LGBTQ people in Louisiana.
“With great respect for the role of the Louisiana Legislature, we continue to believe that discrimination is not a Louisiana value and that we are best served as a state when employment decisions are based solely on an individual’s qualifications and job performance,” he said.
The case was brought by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who said the challenge was about “upholding the checks and balances on executive authority as established in our state constitution.”