By Gabby Jimenez and Claire Sullivan
LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE—A House committee on Wednesday shot down a bill in a 7-5 vote that would
have banned employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The bill would have added to current state law, which prohibits employment discrimination
based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin or cultural hairstyle.
Rep. Delisha Boyd, D-New Orleans, told the House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee
that her bill would help address a worker shortage in Louisiana.
“Skilled and talented people are in short supply in our state,” Boyd said. “We need to expand
our employment pool regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation.”
Melissa Flournoy, a board chair of 10,000 Women Louisiana, a progressive organization, said
that with other bills up this session opposed by the LGBTQ community, passing this proposal
would send the message that “Louisiana doesn’t hate gay people.”
But John Raymond, the pastor of New Horizon Church, a non-denominational Christian church
in Slidell, argued the bill would take away rights from business owners.
Raymond expressed concern that businesses would be forced to employ workers who they do
not want to represent their company.
Members of the LGBTQ community spoke to the committee about their personal experiences of
discrimination in the workforce.
Jasmine Elizabeth Kemp, 32, of Bogalusa, who is transgender, said she has applied for jobs
everywhere—gas stations, diners, retail stores. Still, she has never been hired.
She said she rarely hears back from businesses at all but that one or two business owners told
her “they’re afraid of how their customers will react to a transgender person working in their
“No one has ever given me an interview, no one has ever vetted me, no one has ever given me
a job,” Kemp said.
Kemp is not the only resident who said they have faced discrimination in the hiring process due
to their gender identity.
Peyton Rose Michelle, a transgender woman and the executive director for Louisiana Trans
Advocates, said that despite graduating from high school with a 3.8 GPA and applying for
hundreds of jobs, it took her three to four years to obtain a position.
“It’s really important that we codify protections into our state language… Our community, we
desperately need it,” Michelle said.
Corey McKoy, the CEO of KOK Wings & Things in Lafayette, said he has a staff of over 50
people and has hired gay and trans workers.
“I’ve never had a customer come into my shop and ask what anyone’s sexual orientation is,”
In opposing the bill, Raymond, the pastor of New Horizon Church, a non-denominational
Christian church in Slidell, argued that business owners “have to be true to their market…
Sexual orientation and gender identity are lifestyle choices… This law would be a lightning rod
for lawsuits,” Raymond said.
Rep. Kenny R. Cox, D-Natchitoches, pushed back against Raymond.
“Don’t you think that as Christians that we should be the first people to say, ‘I’ll give you a
chance?’” Cox asked the pastor.
Cox was one of 14 lawmakers who voted Tuesday to advance a bill banning gender-affirming
care for transgender minors.
“There’s a difference between what I was talking about yesterday and the right to work,” Cox
Cox, who served in the U.S. Army, said the best commander he had in the military was gay.
“The freedom to have a bill like this, to pass a bill like this, that’s what I fought for,” Cox said.
Boyd, the bill’s author, took a chair next to the pastor. She said that as she sat there, she
thought about how “once upon a time, people felt the exact same way about African
“Judgment is also a sin,” Boyd said.