Senate strikes down anti-discrimination measure
BATON ROUGE - Senators rejected a measure Tuesday that would have barred discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, age, sex or disability by adding the characteristics to current anti-discrimination statutes.
A Senate judiciary committee voted 4-1 against the proposal by New Orleans Sen. Ed Murray, a Democrat, after hearing only from supporters of the bill who said discrimination is still a reality for many.
Stephanie Patrick, director of policy and planning for the Advocacy Center, said she helped someone with a mental disability who repeatedly met discrimination in the workforce. The center serves people with disabilities and senior citizens.
"This is real and it is still happening today," Patrick said.
Kristen Becker, a standup comedian from Shreveport who is gay, said it was unjust to make Louisianians feel unwelcome in their home state because of who they love.
However, members of the Senate committee were not convinced, doubting a person could prove discrimination based on added characteristics and worrying the added protection for gays would violate freedom of religion.
Opposition came from business and religious groups, but they did not speak at the hearing. Similar measures had been defeated in House committees earlier this session.