Louisiana's governor signed historic legislation on Wednesday that would protect transgender state workers and prohibits discrimination, although it does contain an exemption for religious organizations.
"We respect our fellow citizens for their beliefs, but we do not discriminate based on our disagreements," Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement.
The legislation rescinds a bill signed last year by former Gov. Bobby Jindal that had allowed businesses and government agencies to refuse to serve gay couples. Edwards called out that legislation as being meant to "serve narrow political interests."
But the bill allows for exemptions for churches and other faith-based institutions, which do business with the state. According to NOLA.com, the Catholic Church and several other religious organizations have contracts with the state for education, healthcare, and adoption services. One of the state's most powerful institutions is the Christian Louisiana Family Forum, which opposed the bill but issued a statement saying it appreciated the religious exemption.
Louisiana's action comes on the heels of problematic anti-LGBT bills that passed recently in Mississippi and North Carolina. In Mississippi, Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill last week that allows businesses to deny services or goods to gay and transgender people based on religious liberty.
Meanwhile, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory on Tuesday walked back parts of a bill that banned anti-discrimination protections for gay and transgender people. But he left the most controversial parts of the bill intact, which would force transgender people to use bathrooms according to their sex on their birth certificates.
North Carolina has faced significant backlash over the bill, including PayPal suspending plans to open a $3.6-billion operations center in Charlotte and Bruce Springsteen canceling a concert in Greensboro.