Democratic Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed on Wednesday an executive order that provides employment protections for state employees and employees of state contractors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as race, colour, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, disability, or age.
It also bars discrimination in services provided by state agencies but recognises an exemption for churches and religious organisations.
There is currently no state law protecting LGBT residents of Louisiana from employment discrimination.
"We respect our fellow citizens for their beliefs, but we do not discriminate based on our disagreements. While this executive order respects the religious beliefs of our people, it also signals to the rest of the country that discrimination is not a Louisiana value, but rather, that Louisiana is a state that is respectful and inclusive of everyone around us," Edwards said in a statement.
Edwards' order rescinded the Marriage and Conscience Order issued by former governor Bobby Jindal in May 2015, which barred state agencies from taking action against anyone who believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman only.
Edwards' executive order bars all state agencies from harassing or discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity against any individual in providing any service and in the employment by the state including hiring, promotion, tenure, recruitment or compensation.
All state contractors are required not to discriminate on the basis of race, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, political affiliation, disability, or age regarding employment. Exempted from this provision are contractors that are religious organisations, religious associations, religious educational institution and religious societies.
Edwards said Jindal's order "was meant to serve a narrow political agenda."
"It does nothing but divide our state and forced the business community, from Louisiana's smallest businesses to large corporations, like IBM, to strongly oppose it," he said.
However, Edwards' order does not sit well with family leaders, saying it moved the state backwards.
"Ironically, while other states are seeking to protect people of faith, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards seems to be using his executive power to silence those same people of faith," said Gene Mills, president of the Louisiana Family Forum, LifeSite News reports.