Louisiana Legislature: Housing rights bill fails in committee

Ryan Nelsen | LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE — An attempt to match Louisiana and federal laws on housing discrimination based over sexual orientation or gender identity failed Monday.

           Rep. Aimee Freeman, D- New Orleans, said her bill, HB282, would have eliminated discrimination in housing sales and rentals to members of the LGBTQ community. An initial vote found the bill losing 7-4 in the House Commerce Committee before Freeman voluntarily deferred it.

           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. 

           “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.”

The committee split along party lines, with seven Republicans voting against and four Democrats in support.