Louisiana’s LGBT community would be protected from workplace discrimination under a proposal heading to the Senate floor. New Orleans Senator Troy Carter’s bill would add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in state laws. He says as an African American man, he hasn’t always been protected from discrimination under the law.

“It doesn’t mean that that person won’t still have to face the level of discrimination and ugliness that this world has to offer, but what it does say is that we don’t like it and the law won’t allow it,” Carter said.

Dylan Waguespack with Louisiana Trans Advocates testified in support of the measure and telling committee members that he’s transgender. He says it’s something that, until now, he’s chosen not to share with his colleagues at the Capitol for fear of facing discrimination. He says something has to be done to protect people like him in the workplace.

“I’ve heard conversations in hallways between people who work in this building that have conveyed at best apathy for the discrimination and fear that people in my community face and at worst contempt and disgust,” Waguespack said.

Dr. Will Hall with the Louisiana Baptist Office of Public Policy opposes the bill. He says Attorney General Jeff Landry has already ruled it illegal to add a new protective class that’s not defined under the law. He notes this bill would also go against the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.

“Sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable. So the idea that gender identity brings with it that it’s fluid would actually undermine what has been decided by the US Supreme Court as immutable,” Hall said.

The measure was approved in the Senate Labor Committee on a 3 to 1 vote.

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry did not take a stand after helping to kill the bill on the Senate floor last year.