Jeff Landry Doesn't Represent My Louisiana Or My Profession
Louisiana’s Attorney General, Jeff Landry, is currently embroiled in a suit with Louisiana’s Governor, because Mr. Landry refuses to approve employment contracts with the State that include LGBT protections that are required under an Executive Order issued by the Governor. It’s a little confusing, but it boils down to this: Attorney General Jeff Landry is cloaking anti-LGBT discrimination as a fight against "government overreach." But he’s not fooling anyone.
As an attorney who has devoted my entire legal career to supporting, protecting, and advocating for the rights of my LGBT community in Louisiana, Attorney General Landry’s actions turn my stomach. Personally, I am horrified that this kind of blatant hate is still elected to positions of power in our governments both local and national. Professionally, I am angered that the legal profession continues to be misused by those seeking to perpetuate injustice and discrimination.
I serve as Co-Chair of the LGBT Diversity Subcommittee for the Louisiana State Bar Association (LSBA). Our Subcommittee members have worked for years to get a formal recognition of the right to LGBT equality from our state-wide governing authority, the LSBA. This year it finally happened.
In June of 2016, the LSBA House of Delegates and Board of Governors approved a resolution that recognized the human right of LGBT people to live “free from discrimination, threats, violence and denigration based on their LGBT status…” This resolution isn’t a binding rule, but is an aspirational statement reflecting the consensus of the legal profession in Louisiana.
It is exactly that kind of aspiration for justice and equality that drove me to become a lawyer in the first place. To be tasked with the application, development, and advancement of the rules that bind our communities is a serious burden. It is a burden that requires lawyers to strive to be the best parts of our communities and to be willing to look beyond ourselves. Justice is blind for a reason, and equality shouldn’t include unfounded exceptions. If lawyers want to think of ourselves as exceptional, we are obligated to act that way. The behavior of Attorney General Jeff Landry displays the worst of our communities and the worst of our profession.
In the same year that the members of the LSBA have resolved to “urge the adoption of laws prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, and accommodations for LGBT persons,” one of our most visible and high ranking members has done the exact opposite. It is difficult to see someone so visibly represent my profession in such a disgraceful way. For Mr. Landry to so publicly and adamantly proclaim the devaluing of some people compared to their colleagues brings shame to the legal profession. For Mr. Landry to claim that there is no problem with a law that allows discrimination based on LGBT identity, makes me wonder if he realizes that he works in the Department of Justice, or if he truly understands what the word ‘Justice’ actually means.
Perhaps a few synonyms would assist Mr. Landry. Fairness and equity are two other words he can rely on if the concept of justice is too elusive. Mr. Landry is obligated, not only by his employer, but by his very profession to pursue and promote fairness and equity for all Louisianans. Instead Mr. Landry has chosen to place his personal biases, and probably his political ambitions, ahead of the fair and equitable application of the law. Mr. Landry does not represent my Louisiana and he does not represent my profession.
So, my colleagues and I will continue to support, protect, and advocate for all Louisianans. We will continue to reach for those aspirational goals of justice, fairness, equity, and the right of all people to live free from discrimination, threats, violence, or denigration. We will continue to push every day for the repeal of all laws, rules, and regulations that denigrate and discriminate, and we will urge the adoption of laws prohibiting discrimination. We will do this because our hearts require it and because our profession urges us to. My Louisiana and my profession will be a place free from discrimination against my LGBT community.
Jeff Landry doesn’t represent my Louisiana or my profession.