Republican Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser said Louisiana should avoid approving laws that restrict the LGBTQ community because it would damage Louisiana’s ability to host major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl and Sugar Bowl, and deter tourists from coming to the state, NOLA.com reports
“It’s something we should absolutely steer clear of for the greater good of Louisiana,” said Nungesser in response to a question from a reporter at the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday.
The lieutenant governor, who identifies as a conservative, oversees public tourism and marketing funding for Louisiana.
Nungesser said the Louisiana Legislature, controlled by Republicans, has not seriously considered LGBTQ restrictions in recent years because of the impact it would have on tourism and major sporting events.
As more than a dozen other conservative states have wrestled with so-called “bathroom bills” – legislation that would restrict the bathrooms that transgender people can use – Louisiana stands out for being the only state in the Deep South not to see that type of proposal come forward.
Likewise, Louisiana lawmakers have rejected what are referred to as “religious freedom” or “pastor protection” bills, legislation that would curb protections for people in same-sex marriages.
The NFL, NBA and NCAA have made it clear that they are not willing to host major events in states where restrictions on the LGBTQ community are approved.
The NFL threatened to withhold future Super Bowls from Atlanta until Georgia’s Republican governor vetoed a “religious freedom” bill his state Legislature had passed in 2016. The league took the same stance with Texas, when its Legislature was weighing a “bathroom bill” in 2017 that would have restricted transgender people from using restrooms and other facilities that corresponded to their gender identities.
In 2016, the NBA relocated its NBA All-Star game to New Orleans after North Carolina passed a broad restriction on transgender people using restrooms that aligned with their gender identities.
Backlash from sports leagues and corporations was so severe, the North Carolina General Assembly later repealed the law in an attempt to stem the economic and public relations fallout.
Local business leaders said the NBA moved the game to New Orleans, in part as an affirmation of Gov. John Bel Edwards, who was trying to implement LGBT protections in state government at the time.
Edwards, a Democrat, lost his battle to protect LGBT state government workers and contractor from discrimination when Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry sued to block the policy.
The Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that the governor could not implement a LGBT nondiscrimination policy in state government hiring without the approval of the Legislature.