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Right now, Louisiana’s anti-housing discrimination laws don’t protect against discrimination against LGBTQ residents, putting the state out of sync with federal requirements.
House Bill 303, authored by Rep. Aimee Freeman, D-New Orleans, looks to make it illegal in Louisiana to refuse to rent or sell housing to someone because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill advanced Monday from the House Commerce Committee after a motion to table the bill failed by a 6-8 vote.
“The federal law already protects these (LGBTQ) individuals from discrimination, and all I ask is that we in Louisiana put our state law in line with federal law,” Freeman said to the committee.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced last year it will enforce the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
This is Freeman’s second attempt at passing the bill after Republicans on House Commerce blocked the bill last year. The bill still had Republican opponents this time around.
“I don’t follow … why would we need to make a law to force people to do business with other people?” Rep. Phillip Tarver, R-Lake Charles, said.
“I don’t believe we’re trying to force anybody to do anything. We just want people to follow the law, and we want there to be equal acceptance,” Freeman responded.
Rep. Polly Thomas, R-Metairie, said she was concerned the bill would force landlords to have to ask renters about their sexual or gender orientation, which she was against.
Rep. Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans, said the bill isn’t about verifying any race or orientation, “trying to enshrine in the law that we do not tolerate any type of discrimination.”
Reps. Paula Davis, Bryan Fontenot, Jonathan Goudeau, Scott McKnight, Tarver and Thomas voted to table the bill.
Duplessis and Reps. Stephanie Hilferty, Kyle Green, Paul Hollis, Edmond Jordan, Candace Newell and Vincent St. Blanc voted against it.
The vote was mostly along party lines, except for Republicans Hilferty, St. Blanc and Hollis who voted against the bill being deferred.
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