A Louisiana state judge on Wednesday threw out Gov. John Bel Edwards's executive order that protects LGBT state workers from discrimination and also bans LGBT discrimination in state contracts.
Judge Todd Hernandez found that Edwards exceeded his executive authority by issuing what amounted to "new law and/or expansion of existing law," thereby infringing on powers reserved for the state legislature.
The governor's office told BuzzFeed News it plans to "vigorously pursue an appeal.”
Seeds of the dispute were first planted in 2015, when the previous governor, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, issued an executive order on “marriage and conscience" that protected those acting based on a religious objection to same-sex couples marrying.
But Edwards — a Democrat — said after he took office that Jindal’s decree was inconsistent with his efforts to protect LGBT people from discrimination. Edwards issued his order in April of this year both rescinding Jindal's order and expanding LGBT rights in state employment and state contracts.
A lawsuit challenging the new order was brought by Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry, who said Wednesday that he was pleased with the judge's decision.
In a statement on Wednesday, Attorney General Landry added, "After efforts to advance his extreme agenda failed by large bipartisan majorities in the Legislature, John Bel Edwards took it upon himself to replace the people’s will with his own. Fortunately for the families and businesses in our State, the court ruled today that the Governor’s executive fiat will not fly in Louisiana."
"We do not live under a King in Louisiana; we have a Governor, an independent Attorney General, an elected Legislature, and a Court system who are all involved in governance along with others," Landry continued.
A governor's office spokesperson, Richard Carbo, said the decision was not the end of the dispute. "We are disappointed in the court's ruling today. However, we fully intend to appeal this issue, which is how the parties knew that this matter would ultimately be resolved."
Carbo acknowledged that the judge "did not agree that the executive order is within the authority of the governor to implement."
Still, he said, "We respect the trial court’s decision and will abide by it while we vigorously pursue an appeal.”