She knew she didn’t have the votes going into Tuesday’s Civil Law committee meeting, but Representative Karen St. Germain of Pierre Part still wanted proponents of her anti-discrimination bill to have their say.
“We’re here to do something for the public, and the public means everyone,” St. Germain told her fellow lawmakers. “This is a fairness bill.”
St. Germain’s bill would prohibit employers from discriminating in hiring, firing and promotions, based on a person’s gender identity or gender expression. Scott Hodgin, a small business owner in Baton Rouge, spoke for the measure, saying the state should protect everyone’s right to work.
“It’s not about me. It’s not about my company. It’s about the people that work for me,” Hodgin said. “Who they go home with, what they do at night, it doesn’t matter to me--it doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter to anybody…ever.”
Bruce Parker with Louisiana Progress cited results from an LSU Public Policy poll conducted statewide last November.
“Eighty-nine percent of people polled said that employers should not be able to fire someone because of being gay or transgender,” Parker noted, adding that support for banning workplace discrimination crosses party lines. “Ninety-two percent of Democrats polled believe that, and 86-percent of Republicans polled believe that.”
Describing himself as a “Louisiana, son, father and gay male”, Logan Kinnemore urged committee members to “do what’s right—not what is right-wing.”
“I challenge you to be the public servants in this legislative body with the courage, and defy this nation’s expectation of Louisiana as a small-minded and backward-thinking state.”
Before opponents of the bill were called to testify, St. Germain withdrew the bill from consideration—citing lack of support for advancing the measure to the full House.
“But I will be back with this bill, next year,” she warned.