BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - An executive order intended to protect the rights of members in the LGBT community, which was issued by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, has been tossed out after a judge's ruling.
Officials confirm that Judge Todd Hernandez tossed out the Gov. Edwards' anti-discrimination executive order, ruling that it is unconstitutional. The decision came Wednesday, December 14.
"We are disappointed in the court's ruling today. However, we fully intend to appeal this issue, which is how the parties knew that this matter would ultimately be resolved," Gov. Edwards said. "We respect the trial court's decision and will abide by it while we vigorously pursue an appeal."
AG Jeff Landry, a Republican, sued the Democratic governor over the executive order.
"I applaud Judge Hernandez for basing his ruling on the law, not politics," said General Landry. "My challenge has always been about upholding the checks and balances on executive authority as established in our State Constitution."
Signed by the governor in April, the executive order requires that most state contracts include protections for members of the LGBT community. The AG's office has blocked dozens of legal contracts that contain the clause.
"We do not live under a King in Louisiana; we have a Governor, an independent Attorney General, an elected Legislature, and a Court system who are all involved in governance along with others. Governor Edwards must live within the Constitution," said General Landry.
No other state agencies or vendors have objected to the executive order, according to Scott Johnson, a lawyer for the Division of Administration.
"In his ruling, the judge declared that Louisiana law recognizes the governor as the constitutionally superior officer to the attorney general, but did not agree that the executive order is within the authority of the governor to implement," explains Edwards. "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.
The implications of the case extend beyond just the feud between the two Louisiana officials, however.
Several weeks ago, the House Appropriations Committee held up contracts for state employee health benefits because of the LGBT protection clause. If those contracts are not approved by the legislature, however, thousands stand to lose their health benefits.