Louisiana Governor Signs Law Protecting LGBT Rights

"Unity and fairness for all of our citizens.”

When it seems that LGBT rights are suddenly under attack south of the Mason-Dixon line, one Southern state stood up to hate today when Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an executive order to protect LGBT rights.

The order will protect all LGBT state employees against discrimination, which includes those who work for state agencies and for state contractors.

"We are fortunate enough to live in a state that is rich with diversity, and we are built on a foundation of unity and fairness for all of our citizens," said Gov. Edwards in a press release.

Discrimination against workers on the basis of their sexuality used to be illegal in Louisiana, until former Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, signed an executive order to remove those rights on the basis of protecting religious liberties.

The new executive order from Gov. Edwards, a Democrat who was just elected in November, restores the LGBT rights, but it also includes an exemption for churches and religious organizations.

"The previous administration's executive I am rescinding was meant to serve a narrow political agenda," said Gov. Edwards. "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."

The new executive order, which will go into effect on July 1, is the first in Louisiana's history to also include transgender rights.

"GNO, Inc. commends Governor John Bel Edwards for his executive order barring discrimination in Louisiana," said Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. "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."

In recent weeks, other states in the South such as North Carolina and Mississippi passed laws that are designed to undermine LGBT rights.

The Twitter world praised Gov. Edwards for protecting LGBT rights.

Cover via Justin Sullivan / Getty Images