As the capital and second largest city in Louisiana, Baton Rouge has great cultural, historical and economic significance. But is it a city of true opportunity? A lack of protection from discrimination would indicate that Baton Rouge is not. This is because our municipal code does not currently declare civil rights for any of its citizens. In this report, we propose that a new section of the East Baton Rouge City-Parish Municipal Code be created to dismantle the institutional barriers that exist which hinder the rights and opportunities of its citizens. This report outlines what the new section of the municipal code would do, who would be protected, and why it is important.
We propose that Baton Rouge take the following steps:
- Enact a new chapter to the city-parish municipal code establishing the rights of all citizens and thereby protect against discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation based on real or perceived race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender, gender identity, familial status, marital status, religion, sexual orientation, disability or veteran status.
- Establish within that chapter a volunteer commission to perform the following duties:
- Serve in an advisory role to the public and city-parish
- Provide recommendations to Metro Council & Mayor on issues related to civil rights
- Intake complaints and provides information
- Provide or coordinate mediation services upon request
The new chapter would make it illegal to discriminate in the following:
- Commercial Spaces
- Housing Accommodations (protections already exist, but not for all groups)
- Private Clubs (as defined by ordinance)
- Public Accommodations
- Financial Institutions
- Education Facilities or Schools
The new chapter would make it illegal to discriminate based on the following:
- Race or color
- National Origin
- Gender Identity
- Religious or Political Affiliation
- Sexual Orientation
We truly believe that passing a civil rights ordinance and creating a commission is a step forward. Since there is a lack of protections within the city-parish, cases of discrimination are currently deferred to state and federal policies that are not suited to the people of Baton Rouge. It is in our city’s hands to ensure that our local laws reflect our local values and send the message to potential employers and employees that we are a welcoming city with that famous Louisiana spirit.