Jake Kleinmahon is one of three pediatric cardiologists in Louisiana. Him and his husband are moving their family out of the state due to the new anti-LGBTQ laws that have been passed. Here’s the whole story.
He Was the Only Pediatric Cardiologist in the State of Louisiana
When Jake Kleinmahon accepted his position at a children’s hospital in Louisiana, he was the only pediatric cardiologist in the state of Louisiana. He was the director of the pediatric heart transplant program.
Children in Louisiana who needed a heart transplant were being transferred out of state for care, and Kleinmahon wanted them to have “the same world-class care as any other part of the United States.”
Kleinmahon and his husband, Tom, planned to raise their two kids and live in New Orleans forever. They have spent the past five years building their lives there.
Reprimanding Him for Being Gay and Saying He Needed to “Find Jesus”
However, when the Republican-led state legislature passed a series of bills that targeted the LGBTQ community in Louisiana, the Kleinmahon family decided it was time to leave the only home their kids had ever known and move to another state.
When Kleinmahon told his six-year-old daughter that their family had no choice but to move, she replied, “We do have a choice, just one of them isn’t a good one.”
The Kleinmahon family isn’t alone in saying they no longer feel safe or welcome in Louisiana. Jake said he was receiving “hate mail” at his job from people reprimanding him for being gay and saying he needed to “find Jesus.”
“Don’t Say Gay”
In 2023, more than 525 anti-LGBTQ bills were passed in 41 states. Of those bills, more than 220 of them explicitly target transgender people.
Kleinmahon spent much time lobbying against the laws. He called state lawmakers and wrote letters to the state’s senate education committee, but he eventually reached his breaking point.
The Senate education committee was holding a meeting, and opponents of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill were discussing why it was harmful. During this meeting, Republican state lawmakers got up and walked out.
Kleinmahon told CNN in an interview that this “really showed that they just don’t care.” The actions of the Republican state lawmakers at the meeting were the final straw for the Kleinmahon family.
“We Can’t Raise Our Children in This Environment”
“They are not going to support our children; they are not going to support our family. And although we love New Orleans and we love Louisiana with all of our hearts, we can’t raise our children in this environment,” said Kleinmahon.
The Kleinmahon family moved to Long Island, New York, where Jake accepted a job at a children’s hospital where he is developing a pediatric heart transplant program.
Kleinmahon said he was worried there would be a “void in the Louisiana healthcare system” after he left. When he left, only two other pediatric cardiologists were in the state.
So Many Families “Melted Into [His] Arms”
Kleinmahon said the most challenging part about leaving was “saying goodbye to [his] patients.” When he told them he was leaving, he said so many families “melted into [his] arms.”
In a post on Instagram, Kleinmahon wrote, “This is a wonderful new opportunity, but it is incredibly sad to leave our home, our friends, colleagues, and patients.” He also added, “Our children come first. We cannot continue to raise them in this environment.”
Kleinmahon received a lot of love and support in the comments of his Instagram post announcing his family was moving to Long Island. One person said, “Proud of you for leaving… principal is important as we stand up for our rights.”
“Here on Long Island, We Welcome You and Your Beautiful Family!”
Another person told Kleinmahon, “You are not the first, and you will not be the last to leave.” They also added that Louisiana legislators “should be ashamed” over this “huge loss” to the state.
In the comments, there were also several messages from residents of Long Island welcoming the Kleinmahon family. One person told the Kleinmahon family, “Here on Long Island, we welcome you and your beautiful family!”
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Alina Kruk. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.