Governor responds after AG's office asks to limit LGBT protections in Louisiana

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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards is responding to a legal brief filed by state Attorney General Jeff Landry. The brief asks the U.S. Supreme Court to exclude the LGBT community from federal employment discrimination guidelines. (Download the brief here.)

Edwards and Landry have had this fight before, which may be why the governor's office didn't even know that Landry had filed this brief in the first place.

Louisiana is one of 16 states asking the supreme court to limit LGBT protections for workplace discrimination. Essentially, they say it should be legal to fire someone for their sexual orientation or gender identity. The brief was filed after an appeals court ruled a transgender woman fired because of her gender identity in Nebraska shouldn't have been.

And opponents call this a political attack on the humanity of transgender people.

"The message is that we do not see trans people as worthy people to protect from discrimination and we'd like to make sure that folks know that if they are trans that they're on notice and I think that that is a dangerous, hateful message," said Dylan Waguespack, LA Trans Advocates board chair.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry's office said in a statement that this is about judicial overreach in the aftermath of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

"When Congress enacted Title VII, virtually every dictionary definition of 'sex' referred to physiological distinctions between females and males, particularly with respect to their reproductive function. The 6th Circuit, however, took it upon itself to re-write the law to its own liking."

Governor Edwards' office wasn't aware of the decision until we contacted them on Monday, three days after the brief was filed.

"It seems to me like it would be appropriate to give me a heads up when they do things like that, but he's his own person. He made the decision to file this particular brief," Governor Edwards told KNOE on Tuesday.

The attorney general's office responded saying, "Considering that the governor attempted to redefine the biological term 'sex' and create a legal right of nondiscrimination for a whole new class of persons by executive fiat, we already know his position on this issue."

They're talking about when Landry challenged an executive order by Governor Edwards that would have protected LGBT people who were state employees from getting fired for that reason. Courts struck down that executive order, which the governor called the wrong decision at the time, saying, "At the end of the day, discrimination, bigotry, those are not Louisiana values."

Sarahjane Guidry with Forum for Equality says this filing is wrong for our state, "This isn't for the best interest of the people of Louisiana, and it actually doesn't represent the opinions of Louisianans."

When she says this filing doesn't share the opinion of most Louisianians she's right. A 2017 LSU poll in the state showed 76 percent of people think gay, lesbian and bisexual people should have protections in place from workplace discrimination. And 70 percent feel the same way about transgender people. You can see the poll here.

Also joining in the brief are the states of Nebraska, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming, Kentucky, Maine, and Mississippi.