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Advocates want to see anti-discrimination laws in Baton Rouge

Advocates want to see anti-discrimination laws in Baton Rouge
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POSTED: Friday, January 10, 2014 - 6:20pm

UPDATED: Friday, January 10, 2014 - 6:28pm

More and more cities across the country have adopted anti-discrimination laws for LGBTQ people in their community. Here in Louisiana, New Orleans and Shreveport already have laws protecting those specific individuals, but what are we doing about that here in Capital City?

Matthew Patterson works every day to make sure those individuals in the Baton Rouge community get treated fairly, but there's one thing that's holding the community back.

"I can't tell you how many times people have come to the Capital City Alliance, and said 'look, this has happened to me at my job' or 'I'm worried that if I come-out, I'm going to get fired or I'm going to get kicked out of my house,'" Patterson said. "If something happens to people, there's nothing. They have no recourse. We can sympathize. We can offer support at the level that we can provide it, but they have nothing."

Nothing like what shreveport has at least. Last month, they passed an ordinance called "Be Fair Shreveport," and now Patterson hopes the Capital City will follow suit.

"We've taken the first few steps already. We have a strong local civic organization. We are tied in very well with the state wide Coalition of Equality in Louisiana. We have local, elected officials who are interested in pursuing this."

It's going to take the entire community to make this happen because even though Baton Rouge has an all-inclusive anti-discrimination policy in place, some say it's not enough.

"I've asked the Parish attorney's office to look into it because the difference between the policy and the ordinance would be, what would we do if somebody did that? What would the punishment be for it?" Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle said.

In a recent poll, more than 90% of people across Louisiana support fairness for the LGBTQ community. So now, they just need backing from our metro council members to get the ball rolling.

"Whether it's gay and lesbian people, African-Americans, women, you name it. "It's not something that I would be opposed to. In fact, I've asked the Parish Attorney's Office since this recent development with Shreveport to actually look into that and see if it's something that we can do and we can put some teeth into," Marcelle said.

Along with Marcelle, Councilman John Delgado has also been pushing to get Baton Rouge to adopt an anti-discrimination law.

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