Louisiana Governor Signs Order Giving Some Protection to LGBT Community

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- Democratic Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards just signed an executive order that provides protection for the LGBT community in state jobs and contractors that deal with the state. The executive order also rescinds former Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal's controversial Marriage and Conscience Executive Order.

This new order provides "employment protections for state employees and employees of state contractors on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, political affiliation, disability, or age."

It also "prohibits discrimination in services provided by state agencies, and recognizes an exemption for churches and religious organizations," according to a press release published Wednesday by the governor's office.

While the order helps protect the LGBT community, there is still no state law that protects them from employment discrimination in all areas of the private sector.

The decision comes as other states have passed laws that have discriminatory effects on the LGBT community, including North Carolina and Mississippi, leading businesses, musicians and other states to boycott.

Before this order, Jindal had signed an executive order in May 2015 with the aim of protecting people, businesses and nonprofits from losing access to professional licensing, tax benefits and other government services if they refuse to support same-sex marriage. Jindal signed the executive order only hours after Louisiana lawmakers refused to pass the Marriage and Conscience Act, a bill that would have taken similar action.

“The previous administration’s executive [order] I am rescinding was meant to serve a narrow political agenda," Bel Edwards said. “It does nothing but divide our state and forced the business community, from Louisiana’s smallest businesses to large corporations, like IBM, to strongly oppose it. This executive order threatens Louisiana’s business growth, and it goes against everything we stand for – unity, acceptance, and opportunity for all.”

Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc, a public-private group promoting economic development, commended Bel Edwards on his order "barring discrimination in Louisiana," and said “The perception of Louisiana’s reputation has gone from worst to first in recent years, and this action will help to solidify Louisiana's current reputation as a welcoming place for business and talent.”

Louisiana did pass the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act in 2010, which Bel Edwards supported. It is the strongest religious liberty protections in the country, but Bel Edward's executive order does not conflict with the law.

"While this executive order respects the religious beliefs of our people, it also signals to the rest of the country that discrimination is not a Louisiana value, but rather, that Louisiana is a state that is respectful and inclusive of everyone around us,” Bel Edwards said.

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Officials break ground on new park honoring the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombing

Officials break ground on new park honoring the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombingSeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Officials broke ground in Boston Wednesday for a new park dedicated to Martin Richard, the youngest victim of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Martin was 8 years old when he killed on April 15, 2013, as he watched the marathon from near the finish line with his family. His mother was gravely injured, and his sister, who was 7 at the time,
lost a leg.

Photos from Wednesday's ceremonial groundbreaking show children in hard hats using shovels to dig dirt. Martin's Park, located next to the Boston Children's Museum at the Smith Family Waterfront,
is expected to open in the fall of 2018, according to a press release from the office of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

"This park will bring light & hope to that darkness, honoring his memory & allowing kids to be kids," Baker wrote on Twitter.

#MartinRichard lost his life to terror. This park will bring light & hope to that darkness, honoring his memory & allowing kids to be kids. pic.twitter.com/lYUTMyZNxV

— Charlie Baker (@MassGovernor) August 16, 2017

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh wrote on Twitter that the park will remind its visitors of "hope, compassion & love."

"Martin's spirit will always live on in Boston & in Martin's Park," Walsh wrote.

This park reminds us of hope, compassion & love a young boy taught us all. Martin's spirit will always live on in Boston & in Martin's Park. pic.twitter.com/w6Plokx6D7

— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) August 16, 2017

Both Baker and Walsh spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony, as well as Martin's family.

Martin's sister, Jane Richard, said she knows that her brother is happy that the community is coming together.

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