By a vote of 13-5, the Louisiana House Commerce Committee today killed a bill that would have extended statewide housing discrimination protections to LGBT residents. Three Democrats voted with the majority.
Much of the debate around Brossett’s bill hinged on a property owners’ rights to deny housing to anyone they believe would jeopardize the “safety” and “family” oriented-nature of their community. Maurice Dugas, a property owner from Pineville, said he thought the bill “could create some major problems” by allowing LGBT Louisianians to sue for actual and punitive damages if they were denied access to housing. Without directly referencing the gay community, he questioned his ability to provide a safe living environment if he was not able to block certain people from his properties.
Kathleen Benfield, from the conservative Christian organization the American Family Association of New Orleans, also testified against the bill on behalf of the Louisiana Family Forum’s Gene Mills, who she said could not make the hearing. She said the issue presented by the bill was “to protect certain sexual practices outside of marriage” and said this isn’t a civil rights issue since sexual identity and gender expression are not “immutable” like race and “can change over time.” She also said Brossett didn’t present proof that homosexuals are being discriminated against in Louisiana.
New Orleans enacted LGBT housing protections in 1999 and Shreveport adopted a similar ordinance last year. (Tipped by JMG reader Ken)