By Ryan Nelsen
LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE — An attempt to align Louisiana with federal laws on housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity failed Monday, with Republican lawmakers using some interesting, if not questionable, logic to kill the bill.
Rep. Aimee Freeman, D- New Orleans, said her bill, HB282, would have eliminated discrimination in housing sales and rentals based on sexual orientation, but after the House Commerce Committee voted 7 to 4 against the bill, Freeman voluntarily deferred it.
The committee split along party lines, with seven Republicans voting against and four Democrats in support.
Maxwell Ciardullo, the director of policy at the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center, testified with Freeman on the importance of aligning state and federal laws.
“Someone might read our laws and think they could lawfully choose to discriminate against someone based on their gender identity issues and not to sell their home to them,” he said.
Rep. Edmond Jordan, D-Baton Rouge, an attorney, said the state could violate federal laws if the protected classes did not expand to include LGBTQ members.
“It’s really no different than saying, should you have a choice to refuse to rent to me, or sell me a home, because I’m African American,” said Jordan. “Whether you agree or disagree with that, that’s the status of the law.”
Rep. Danny McCormick, R-Oil City, voted against the bill and actually tried to compare anti-housing discrimination laws with his own anti-mask stance.
“Personally, I don’t wear a mask and get discriminated against,” said McCormick. “It looks like it ought to be the business owner’s personal choice. I’m not trying to run a bill that says you have to let me come in your store whether I have a mask on or not.”