Landry’s political stunt wastes time, money
Published 6:26 am Saturday, October 8, 2016
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards announced last week he is suing Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry because Landry has refused to sign off on about 40 contracts with various state departments.
Landry opposes Edwards’ executive order that requires language in all state contracts that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from discrimination in the workplace. However, rather than merely protest what Landry sees as executive overreach, our attorney general has held up state business on the pretext that the legislature is the proper authority to create protected classes.
Since the legislature has failed to extend legal protection to LGBT people, Landry argues that he has a duty to grind state business to a halt. The Times-Picayune reports Edwards saying, “He basically told me that if I wanted him to approve those contracts that I would have to sue him… so I’m obliging him on that.”
Landry is wrong to hold up the contracts. He has been chastised by the state’s bar association and Senate President John Alario, a fellow Republican, who said Landry was “out of bounds.” In addition, executive orders are hardly uncommon and governors Kathleen Blanco and Edwin Edwards both extended non-discrimination protection to LGBT people. Gov. Bobby Jindal is the only governor recently to not extend executive protection to LGBT citizens.
This lawsuit is a waste of state time and money, but it is clear Edwards has no choice if the state hopes to conduct routine business.
Extending legal protections to LGBT citizens has not hurt the state in the past and it will not hurt the state now. However, allowing an attorney general to unilaterally determine what contracts get approved based on personal politics is a dangerous precedent that will come back to bite both parties in the future, should Landry win this fight.
We do not believe Landry will win, but we hope voters remember this stunt come election time.